By TOM ZEBOLD
USF Senior Writer
TAMPA - USF training camp visitors that want to learn about the team will get a lot out of the defense.
For starters, fans are anxious to see how new defensive coordinator Chris Cosh operates and what kind of style he's going to bring to the Bulls. Fans can catch a glimpse of USF practicing in Vero Beach starting Wednesday night and it won't be hard to see what Cosh brings to the table.
"The qualities of being a great team are being unselfish, being fundamentally sound and learning how to handle adversity," Cosh said. "It's just like a family. You have to communicate, believe in each other and trust each other."
Communication is a word Cosh constantly relays to his players and fans should expect a lot of chatter from the Bulls before and after the snap.
"I think the more eyes you have seeing things the more information you can gather on a play, whether it's just repeating a call or emphasizing an alignment," the former Kansas State defensive coordinator said. "I think it's those kind details that are what separates winning and losing."
USF knows a lot about the fine line between winning and losing after a tough 2011 season and the Bulls' defense knows improving in all areas - especially the small details - is vital for a turnaround year.
"There is a lot of positive energy with everybody going into this camp. Everyone is ready to get going," senior linebacker Michael Lanaris said. "I'm looking forward to spending a lot of time with these guys and getting better."
Now that you know the philosophy, here are some things to look out for on the defensive side of the ball during training camp:
Who Will Start at Corner with Kayvon Webster?
USF fans feel really good about one side of the cornerback position with senior starter Kayvon Webster lining up. But who will be on the other end guarding the opposition's other top receiver?
That's what USF has to find out by the end of camp and the good news for now is the Bulls have options, which is a newfound luxury for the coaching staff. Candidates to check out at camp include George Baker, Fidel Montgomery, Kenneth Durden, Josh Brown and Chris Bivins.
"There are a lot of question marks, but there's an awful lot of talent there to decide between," head coach Skip Holtz said.
Who Will Be USF's Supporting Cast of Linebackers?
Fans know a lot about USF's trio of star linebackers - Sam Barrington, Michael Lanaris and DeDe Lattimore - but they probably don't know much about who will back them up. Don't worry, the coaches are wondering how the depth chart will shape up as well.
Senior Mike Jeune and redshirt sophomore Reshard Cliett have proven they can get the job done, but the staff will be watching young talent like Zack Bullock, Corian Hamilton, Edsel Caprice and Antoine Pozniak to see how they'll react in game situations.
"We're waiting to see kind of who is going to step up out of that crowd," Holtz said.
Will Grissom Be Good to Go? How About the Other Anchors?
Senior defensive tackle Cory Grissom is on pace to be "full go" for USF's season opener after breaking his ankle during spring practice. USF will be monitoring his health in camp while coaches see how the rest of the players at the position have progressed.
"Obviously with Cory Grissom being out, I'm anxious to see who is going to step up and take that role," Holtz said.
Redshirt junior Luke Sager, sophomore Elkino Watson and redshirt sophomore Todd Chandler will be looking to take the next step, while redshirt junior Demi Thompson, redshirt freshman Clavion Nelson and freshman James Hamilton get into the mix this season.
"I want to see how the bottom of that depth chart is going to round out for us," Holtz said.
The Safeties Will Be Busy
Cosh said the Bulls will line up in the nickel package quite a bit, so a trio of safeties will have a lot of ground to cover at once this season.
Redshirt junior JaQuez Jenkins and junior Mark Joyce both performed well in the spring, but senior Jon Lejiste missed extended time while recovering from a wrist injury. Defensive backs coach Rick Smith said Lejiste is back to 100 percent and has trimmed 10 pounds off his frame to get to 192.
"He's done a great job getting into shape," Smith said.
Check back to GoUSFBulls.com on Tuesday for a preview of USF's offense heading into the Bulls' camp stay in Vero Beach.