By TOM ZEBOLD
TAMPA - JaQuez Jenkins will try to do his best Mistral Raymond impression in pass situations this season.
USF defensive coordinator Mark Snyder talked about the team's nickel package Sunday and mentioned Jenkins, a safety, will be used as a fifth defensive back.
"When you go back and you look at least year, Skinny (Raymond) played that role and he was a big part of our defense, so it means a lot to me," Jenkins said. "It lets me know I need to come and play a big role. I just want to do whatever it takes to help my team win the Big East."
Jenkins got rave reviews from his coaches with his play in Saturday's scrimmage along with fellow safety Mark Joyce. Both will be vital pieces to the team this season.
"I think Jenkins and Joyce are really playing well in the secondary and give us two more starters when you look at it right now," head coach Skip Holtz said.
Jenkins, a redshirt sophomore, embraces his added role in the nickel package and has the skill set to be a playmaker.
"I played cornerback a lot in high school, and just moving from there to safety I've come to grasp the game a little more," he said.
Jenkins played in 11 games last season as a safety and special teamer, totaling 10 tackles, an interception and fumble recovery.
In preparation for the season, the 6-foot-2, St. Petersburg native packed on seven pounds to his now very durable 195-pound frame.
Raymond, who once walked on at USF, was selected in the sixth round of April's draft by the Minnesota Vikings, who liked his ability to play both cornerback and safety.
Holtz has had time to look at the film from Saturday's scrimmage at Raymond James Stadium and has taken some positives and negatives from it.
Holtz was happy with how the first units played, but he still has depth concerns.
"With the ones, it wasn't near as bad as I thought, and with the twos it probably wasn't as good as I thought," he said.
The scrimmage also gave Holtz a chance to really zero in on the offensive and defensive lines.
He likes what sees from the starting five on the offensive line.
"I think Danous Estenor is playing really well. Mark Popek came back and is really playing well," he said. "I like those first five right now. I like those first five and what they're doing and how they're playing together as a group."
Shedding Light on the No. 3 Running Back Situation
Demetris Murray and Darrell Scott have the top two running back spots locked down but there continues to be a battle for playing time beyond that.
Offensive coordinator Todd Fitch said Sunday that sophomore Marcus Shaw has a lead over sophomore Bradley Battles.
"Right now I'd say (Shaw) has a little leg up in that situation, but both have done a fine job," Fitch said.
Fitch noted Shaw has looked particularly strong in scrimmages and has been sharp in the open field.
"I think going into this week, coming out of the scrimmage, Marcus has probably done a little bit better overall job," Fitch said.
Back to School
School begins Monday, which means the Bulls are entering their last phase of preparation for the season opener at Notre Dame on Sept. 3.
"I think they're excited that camp is over and I think they're excited to get on campus and obviously go to class," Holtz said.