Bulls D-line Ready to Hit Somebody Else

The Bulls D-line is lead by two-time All-American George Selvie, and the expectations on the unit are high, but DL Coach Kevin Patrick says the expectations they put on themselves are even higher. With the season opener against Wofford being just days away, the Bulls are heady to hit somebody, anybody not wearing green and gold.

It's been a long time since the Bulls faced an opponent, not since they beat Memphis in the MagicJack bowl. Since then, they've gone through winter conditioning, spring ball, summer conditioning, and the grueling schedule of training camp. Now that the long offseason is over and the season opener against Wofford is only days away, the Bulls are heady to hit somebody else.

"I think the guys just like in any camp are very excited to finally face an opponent. They're tired of seeing each other, and they want to hit somebody else" said defensive line coach Kevin Patrick. "It's going to be exciting. We have got a lot of new things going on and new guys at certain positions. There is a lot of competition so it is going to be exciting."

Patrick is the coach of a defensive line that returns two-time All-American George Selvie, returning starters Aaron Harris, Terrell McClain and also a much deeper, stronger, and more talented supporting cast. With a defensive line picked as one of the best in the Big East, the expectations are high.

"The expectations are high, but I think it is more the expectations that the players put on themselves," says Patrick. "Ours are no higher then what the players expect from themselves."

After a grueling training camp Patrick says you kind of feel the effects of the duration but can see a change in player's attitudes as game day approaches.

"Yesterday I saw some good things up front and some higher energy. I saw George Selvie yelling, ‘Let's go. Let's go. We need to pick it up. Let's do this," said Patrick. "You can sense that they went through the camp and now the gears have changed, its game week, and I think they are excited to get out there and play on Saturday."

It's been a long time since the Bulls were able to hit someone not wearing green and gold and they're excited about that.

"Yeah, they're absolutely ready to hit somebody else, that's kind of the payoff for those long camps," said Patrick. "Now we have to see what they can do."

The Players

Everybody in the state of Florida and around the nation knows of George Selvie and what he can do, but this season he is healthy and ready to go. And coach says there is a difference in Selvie this year.

"He is more vocal as a leader more than anything, and he understands the game more which is pretty amazing because he has a pretty good feel for it," said Patrick. "He has really worked on his counters and going through whether to use a bump or spin move on the inside. George has really just worked on trying a lot of different things, and is really focusing and improving on his weaknesses, and is really trying to improve on the things that he was not great at. I really was impressed with him this summer."

Senior DL Aaron Harris has played mostly in the interior for the Bulls, but this training camp he worked a lot as a defensive end. He's listed back on the inside for the opening game, but they will use his versatility.

"Aaron Harris has given us a lot of reps over the year here. He has seen a lot of bullets fly as they say. He's been in a lot of games, is somebody who knows what it is like to be out there, and we're going to count a lot on him. He will play a little bit of end and will play a little bit of three technique. Aaron is a guy who will do whatever w e ask to do and will do it for the betterment of the team."

Lining up next to him his junior Terrell McClain, who played as a true freshman, but came into this season leaner, stronger, faster, and eager to do big things for the Bulls.

"Terrell has moved around this year, he played a little three technique and a little nose. He can probably play end too. It is amazing. He has some athletic ability. Terrell has been doing a good bit this year, and has the ability to kind of bounce back and forth. He pulled his groin earlier this year, and that kind of hampered him a little bit, but he is back full tilt ready to go."

Lining up on the opposite end is junior David Bedford who is currently being listed as a starter. Bedford was a highly touted JUCO player, but it took him a year to finally earn the start.

"David had to work on some things in order to get a good feel for the game at this level, and it took him some time. He is a guy who now understands what we ask him to do. He understands the game at this level, and he has gotten better every day. We're excited about him getting in some reps at either end position really. That is something I am really proud of. His ability to play either or."

The defensive line unit is deep

This year's D-line is loaded with talent and for the first time Patrick has a considerable amount of depth, and with six d-ends listed on the depth chart, he says it won't be an issue getting on the field.

"We don't have starters. We have guys that are probably going to go in first, and that may change from week to week. It may be a change from end to three or nose. We are d-linemen. I tell the guys all the time that if you're d-linemen then you're d-linemen. That means if we ask you to go play anywhere on that line, you are going to play that position and be excited about it. The guys are going to move around a good bit, and we are going to try and utilize our guys the best possible ways and attack weaknesses and strengths."

One of those players is Jason Pierre-Paul, a very highly rated JUCO player from Ft. Scott that came in late, but could make a big impact on the defensive line.

"Jason is very raw. Before he got here he was told to just line up and go. He does have a good understanding of the game, but he has a ways to go, and we have a lot to teach him. His raw natural athletic ability is probably one of the most impressive that we have on that front. His fingertip to elbow is probably as long as my arm in itself. If he can learn to go out and use those puppies and incorporate them into his power and speed rush, he can possibly be a dominant force this year."

Also listed on the two-deep are defensive linemen Craig Marshall, Keith McCaskill and Patrick Hampton, all three have game experience with Marshall starting two games at end.

"They all provide great depth. Marshall has played a lot of football for us, and Keith McCaskill and P-Hampton have been giving us a lot of reps. Again, it gives us some guys out there who have been in a game situation in the Big East. It's good to know that we have guys two or three deep that have the ability to go out there and play in a pivotal situation."

One player who is making his debut with USF is Leslie Stirrups, the former Hillsborough star defensive tackle that is finally a Bull.

"Leslie can be a very violent force. I just need to do a better job with him as far as making sure he cuts loose. He is trying to learn the defense which he has done a great job at too. He is going to be good. I think as the season goes on you are going to see Leslie really take a step up in his game and be an influential player this season."

Another player that has been mentioned a lot is Cory Grissom, a redshirt freshman that impressed through spring and summer drills, but was dinged up and held out for precautionary reasons.

"Corey is great. We are looking forward to a big season out of him. He is a very talented 300 pound guy that can get in there and do some things. He is ready to go, and we are excited about it."

The future is here

The defensive line also has highly rated freshmen DE's Ryne Giddens and Julius Forte who with Demi Thompson and Luke Sager made an outstanding recruiting class for Patrick to work with.

"Ryne and JuJu have phenomenal talent and are very impressive. I am very impressed with them, with all those guys like Demi Thompson. Even Luke Sager, with the current injury on his finger, is battling every day just to be out there and to get out there as quick as possible. He has got doctors and everyone holding him back and it is almost like they are tying him down because he has got a relentless pursuit to get back on the field. If you look at the whole group: Thompson, Sager, Giddins, Forte, and if you throw in Pierre-Paul and Stirrups into the mix as the newcomers, it's a pretty impressive class."

Competition brings greatness

With so much depth on the line the rotation is going to be fierce, but Patrick emphasizes that it doesn't matter who is listed as a starter and the competition is ongoing.

"Everybody who busts their tail that week is going to have an opportunity. It is an open competition every day of the week. Every rep, every day, you can lose your job or get a job. If you look back behind you, someone might step right in front of you. I think it is going to push the guys to keep going forward. Really the competition is going to be a key for us at times."

With just a few days until the opener Patrick knows what he wants to see from his group at practice. "I want to see us playing fast and violent, plain and simple. Practice swarming and punishing, practice dominating, practice enthusiasm, and practice what we have preached and that's to get in our lineup, put the hammer to the ground, and getting after it every play.

USFN Correspondent Tyler Frazier contributed to this report.

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