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In one statistical sense, Bulls on same level as 'Bama

USF coach Charlie Strong (center), reprimanding linebacker Danny Thomas early in preseason camp, said that rigorous August now is paying off.


USF coach Charlie Strong (center), reprimanding linebacker Danny Thomas early in preseason camp, said that rigorous August now is paying off.



Wasn't terribly long ago -- oh, 12 months or so -- when Bulls fans were questioning their team's physicality.

Now, they're quantifying it.

USF and Alabama are the only two Division I teams ranked in the top 10 nationally in both rushing offense and run defense. The No. 18 Bulls enter Saturday's homecoming game against Cincinnati fifth in rushing (309.2 ypg) and second in run defense (74.4 ypg).

Top-ranked 'Bama is seventh (301.7) and first (73.3), respectively, in those categories.

"I was laughing at 'em because I said, "You guys came out of camp talking about, 'Coach, this was physical. We ain't never hit this much,'" Coach Charlie Strong said Tuesday. "I said, 'But you look at it right now, why we're running the football. ... What happens in practice is gonna happen in a game.'"

Suddenly, the Bulls are reflecting on that camp, which had the earliest starting date (July 24) of any USF preseason, more proudly than painfully.

"It was very helpful," DT Kevin Bronson said. "Camp is gonna be a little hell, but you've got to get through it in order to play the season."

FULLWOOD IMPROVING: Veteran S Tajee Fullwood, who missed the East Carolina game with an ankle injury, practiced for the second consecutive day Wednesday and has looked okay, defensive coordinator Brian Jean-Mary said.

How much he plays Saturday against Cincinnati remains unclear. "You know how some of those injuries are, we want to make sure we're not bringing him back too early where he re-injures it and now he's out for a longer period of time," Jean-Mary said. "We want to make sure he's healthy before he hits the field."

Meantime, slot WR Deangelo Antoine -- out the last two games with an ankle injury -- practiced again and was seen running sprints at the end.

"He's been good, real good," offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert said. "It's good to see him back out there and moving around."

ODDS AND ENDS: QB Quinton Flowers is among 20 finalists for the Johnny Unitas Award. The initial watch list featured 47 players. ... The American Athletic Conference enters this weekend with more unbeaten teams (UCF, USF, Navy) than any other league. ... In case you forgot, Strong and Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell were the defensive coordinators at Florida and Ohio State, respectively, in the 2006 BCS national title game (won by UF). ... The Bulls' first-team offense has scored on 14 of its last 17 possessions dating to the 43-7 Temple blowout.

AUDIBLE: "Man, I'm ready for it to be done with. But we said we weren't gonna shave it, so it's kinda locked in right now." -- MLB Auggie Sanchez who, along with a handful of teammates, have promised not to shave until the season ends or the Bulls lose. (Here's the latest look at Sanchez's beard)

[Last modified: Wednesday, October 11, 2017 4:24pm]


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