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Defense, QB praised in USF scrimmage


© St. Petersburg Times, published March 31, 2002

TAMPA -- South Florida held its first football scrimmage of the year Saturday, and coach Jim Leavitt gave a fairly positive critique.

TAMPA -- South Florida held its first football scrimmage of the year Saturday, and coach Jim Leavitt gave a fairly positive critique.

The two-hour scrimmage lasted almost 100 plays as the first team offense went against the second team defense and vice versa.

The first-team offense failed to score on its first five possessions until fullback Charlie Ross plunged 3 yards to cap a touchdown drive aided by two 15-yard penalties.

"Our No. 1 offense didn't do very well in the beginning," Leavitt said. "I thought our overall defense had a much better day, even though our No. 1 defense did get scored upon at one time."

That time came when quarterback David Mullins found a streaking Bruce Gipson down the left side for a 26-yard touchdown. Mullins, a freshman who joined the team in January, impressed Leavitt and may be closing in on backup quarterback Ronnie Banks.

"The guy that stood out the most to me was David Mullins," Leavitt said. "He was a guy that (had offers from) Indiana (and) Wake Forest, and we held him out a semester because we knew we wanted to get some separation from him and (starting quarterback Marquel) Blackwell. We knew we had Ronnie Banks, but is he pushing Banks? No question."

Dejuan Green had two touchdowns and led all rushers with 39 yards on eight carries.

The kicking game continues to be a concern. With Santiago Gramatica (knee) out this spring, Justin Geisler got the most playing time and missed several field goals at the end of the workout.

"Justin Geisler had a disappointing day again today," Leavitt said. "(Geisler's) going to have to change or we're going to have to get somebody else."

MORE FOOTBALL: Sophomore Chris Rix was 7-for-11 with 126 yards and two touchdowns in Florida State's second full scrimmage. ... South Carolina coach Lou Holtz's salary was increased $25,000 to $200,000 a season. The Gamecocks (9-3) beat Ohio State 31-28 in the Outback Bowl.

BASEBALL: Mike Barclay's four hits and four RBIs and a seven-run eighth lifted host South Florida (16-11, 5-3 C-USA) over Louisville 10-7. Keith Strickland (4-0) was the winner in relief, and Joey Livingston earned his second save of the weekend.

In other action, Florida State (28-9, 3-5 ACC) beat host Wake Forest 18-10. In Gainesville, Ryan Shealy hit a two-run homer as Florida (23-6, 5-3 SEC) came back from an early 5-0 deficit to beat Auburn 9-5. Host Tampa (16-15, 4-1 SSC) swept a doubleheader with Eckerd (23-17, 3-3), winning 21-9 and 9-7. And Elon won its 14th straight, beating host Miami (16-13) 11-8.

SOFTBALL: USF (19-23-1, 5-3) dropped a doubleheader to host Louisville, losing 2-1 and 8-0. Florida (22-23, 5-9) swept Arkansas 4-1 and 2-1.

SWIMMING AND DIVING: Texas (512 points) won its third straight NCAA men's title in Athens, Ga. Florida (277) was fourth and UF's Greg Troy was named coach of the year.

TRACK AND FIELD: On the final day of the Florida Relays in Gainesville, Florida's Megan Westfall set her second school record in the pole vault (13 feet, 41/4 inches) and Candice Scott set a women's hammer throw record (204-2). At the Raleigh (N.C.) Relays, Miami senior Jeff Gaulrapp and junior Dan Boniface qualified for the Big East Championships in the 3,000 steeplechase, and Matt Mulvaney qualified for the 10,000.

LSU VIOLATIONS: Athletes had tutors write, rewrite and type papers, read books and find test answers for them in violation of NCAA and school rules, according to a Jan. 22 university memo. SEC commissioner Roy Kramer will decide if the NCAA becomes involved. Athletic director Skip Bertman said the investigation centers on five to 10 student-athletes, including football players.

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BASEBALL TODAY ON TV: Auburn at UF, 1, Sunshine; Louisville at USF, 1, FSN.

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