The Hurricanes are preparing for their first road trip of the season at USF and the good news to come out Tuesday is that the team is getting healthier.
> Quarterback Stephen Morris, recovering from a right ankle sprain, threw about 40 passes in team drills, his first real work since being sidelined in the first quarter Saturday. Coach Al Golden said he was transferring his weight well and remains on target to play against the Bulls.
> Center Shane McDermott, who missed the Savannah State game with a foot injury, will begin being integrated into practice Wednesday.
> Offensive guard Danny Isidora, a redshirt freshman who has been out since fall camp began with a broken foot, was back at practice for the first time Tuesday. Receiver Rashawn Scott (shoulder) is no longer in a sling and will start running pretty soon according to Golden.
"It was good to see Danny out there," Golden said. "He's out there moving around without a boot. I think there's an integration protocol with him, walk for a couple of days and then jog. Danny is seeing the light at the end of the tunnel I'd be speculating to tell you when he can come back and play. He's a 310, 312-pound man. We need to be careful with that in terms of his long term future. We need him, need that depth on the offensive line.
"It would be great to get some of those guys back. Obviously Isidora and Scott are going to be a little bit longer projects, but Shane and Stephen we expect quickly."
BUSH READY TO BOUNCE BACK
Sophomore safety Deon Bush, who saw his first action of the season against Savannah State and made one tackle in a little over 20 snaps, agreed with defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio's assessment that he was "a bit rusty" Saturday.
"That's probably understating it, but it's something to build on," Bush said. "I finally got my feet wet, got out there and was able to be out there with the team. I really enjoyed being with the team. I expected it to be a lot better. The only thing I can do right now is work harder and build on what I put on film and get better out there."
Bush admitted he was a bit tentative Saturday and was even a little fatigued at times.
"It was a major wake-up call," Bush said. "It taught me stuff I got to get better at, things I need to work on, weaknesses."
GOLDEN SAYS USF BETTER THAN ITS RECORD INDICATES
The Bulls (0-3) have losses to McNeese State 53-21 and FAU 28-10, but Golden said not to put too much stalk into that and points to turnovers as the reason USF isn't better.
"You keep looking at their defense, they're veterans on defense, deep on defense, they play a lot of different guys," Golden said. "A lot of those same guys play on special teams. On offense we're entering a game not knowing who is going to be the quarterback or how much of their read game is going to be utilized based on that decision. Our kids know exactly what kind of game we're getting ready for. These rivalry games are just that, spirited, heated.
"They're 33 percent on third down defense. That's been one of the things we have to overcome. They present a number of problems. They'll play man to man on you, are very good in the zone because they have the push to get there. They play a lot of different guys. You look at their defensive line -- whether its [Elkino] Watson, [Tevin] Mims, [Ryne] Giddens, [Luke] Sagar in there, now [Aaron] Lynch. There are so many guys they play that they play fresh and they keep the pressure on you, quite often with four rushers on third down. We have to convert, run the ball (and) generate good carries, good rushes, be patient with it and move the sticks."
> Golden said the Hurricanes, who currently rank 102nd in time of possession, need to convert more on third downs to help their cause there.
"If you take our third down percentage and if you're up around 45 percent you're going to get more opportunities," Golden said. "I think our turnovers have been good which has been helping our time of possession. But if you don't get turnovers now we're in trouble. The things we can control more readily are third down percentage in terms of converting and just holding onto the ball a little bit.
"Is it the end all? No. But it's an important factor. If you're hitting big plays there really is no bad. If you're hitting the big play and scoring, there is no bad. The guy with the most points wins. We don't want to put the defense out there. You guys saw the Florida game. We're out there and hanging on a little bit. We don't want to be in that situation against the defense."