By TOM ZEBOLD
USF Senior Writer
TAMPA - There once was a time when USF coaches had to make receivers out of Evan Landi and Lindsey Lamar just so the Bulls could fill the position.
Times have changed quite a bit for Skip Holtz's squad as the Bulls now have a wealth of talent to line up and catch passes from B.J. Daniels.
"I think without a doubt going into our third year, what was our weakest position coming in here has definitely grown into one of our strongest through recruiting and the development of some of these younger players," Holtz said.
The same can be said for most positions on the USF offense heading into the training camp trip to Vero Beach, which is one of the main reasons why the media has high expectations for the Bulls in 2012.
"We have to do a good job of using those talents. I think the growth we have to have is to get better at the little things on offense on a more consistent basis," offensive coordinator Todd Fitch said. "The guys that have those special talents, we've got to put them into position."
Featuring a player in the game plan is something Fitch wasn't able to do much at all in the previous two seasons at USF, but this training camp will mark a new trend that fans should get excited about.
"I think we have the opportunity to say on these set of downs, we have to get this player into a position. I think he can be a matchup for that defense that they can't handle. That's the first time probably we've had that on offense," Fitch said.
Now that you get a sense of USF's approach, here are some things to look out for on the offensive side of the ball during training camp:
Who Will Emerge as the No. 2 Quarterback?
Junior Bobby Eveld and redshirt freshman Matt Floyd had a see-saw battle going on in the spring and it left the decision on the No. 2 quarterback well up in the air. Coaches have revealed that it could go down to the wire if the battle stays on a similar path in fall camp.
"We came out of the first scrimmage (of spring) and Matt Floyd had a great day and Bobby didn't quite perform. We came into the second scrimmage and said just the opposite, which is a good situation to have. You have two guys that both have the talent and ability to do it," Holtz said.
Buckle up because this is the hottest topic on the offensive side of the ball in camp and there could be many twists and turns before it's all said and done.
"The difference between winning that spot and losing that spot is going to be throwing it to the wrong colored jersey a couple of times," Holtz said.
The Offensive Line Is Deep, but How Deep?
Some of the names have changed in the starting lineup, but USF's offensive line has the potential to be even better than it was in 2011.
"We may not be as powerful of a punch at certain spots, but we may be better athletically and be able to do some more things with those guys because of the depth we have," Fitch said.
Coaches know a lot can change if a player or two goes down with an injury, so USF's staff will be really looking into what the second wave of linemen can do in camp.
Names to keep an eye out for are sophomore Darrell Williams, redshirt freshman Thor Jozwiak, redshirt freshman Max Lang and redshirt freshman Brynjar Gudmundsson.
"I think they're really talented, young players. I think we have the best depth we've had there where we're going to have the ability to roll a little bit more on the offensive line," said Holtz.
Can Young Talent Earn Playing Time at Tight End?
USF fans have gotten to know senior tight ends Evan Landi, Andreas Shields and Jeff Hawkins, but the Bulls have much more talent to take a look at.
Sophomore Mike McFarland wowed coaches with his playmaking ability in the spring and Fitch was impressed with the way the former Blake High School star has picked up the offense as well.
"If you had a draft pick today on this team based on potential, Mike McFarland is the No. 1 draft pick. They don't come like that," Fitch said.
Let us not forget about freshman Sean Price, who was a hot prospect on the national scene before he signed with the Bulls. There is a logjam at the position, but USF coaches aren't opposed to getting young talent on the field if they prove they're capable of the task.
"(I'm excited with) the way McFarland has been coming along and I'm really anxious to see Sean Price in that situation. I'm anxious to see what he can do there," Holtz said.
The Evolution of B.J. Daniels
Much has been documented about B.J. Daniels' improvement on the field from 2010 to 2011. The Tallahassee native's 2,585 passing yards were 900 more than his 2010 total despite him playing in one less game last year. Daniels also became a better protector of the ball, throwing just seven interceptions after totaling 13 in 2010.
So what's next for a guy that has the ability to do it all in game action?
"I think he understands to be a great leader and a great quarterback, it's about making the people around you better. At the end of the day, when you're a great leader sometimes you sacrifice to make somebody else better," Fitch said.
Aside from helping his playmakers reach their potential, Daniels will be expected to excel in the little details that could make a big difference in games.
"He's got to be a third-down junky. What gets you beat? What doesn't?" Fitch said.
Daniels has a good understanding of what's ahead for him and his mind was in the right place before practices started back up.
"It's a sense of urgency just trying to step up as a leader on and off the field," he said. "... Just being older and understanding one play is not going to make or break a game. Take a check down, throw a ball away and do the little things to stay consistent."