By TOM ZEBOLD
USF Senior Writer
VERO BEACH - USF head coach Skip Holtz loves training in Vero Beach because it's "all ball, all day" for the Bulls and he's not kidding.
USF's daily routine so far has consisted of waking up early and meeting for a little more than an hour to add play call instillations. The Bulls then go outside for a walkthrough to apply the information they just learned and then the team applies it some more at grueling afternoon practices. The staff and players finish the day off evaluating everything at night and it's back to the same grind the next day.
"It's a thorough process. The meetings are sometimes worse than the practice," offensive coordinator Todd Fitch said after Thursday's practice.
Fortunately for Fitch, USF's offense has been grasping things well in the team's first week of fall camp and has been moving at a quicker pace.
"We're further along than we were last year," senior quarterback B.J. Daniels said. "We have some guys who have been in the system and they know what they're doing. Right now it's trying to fine tune our offense, focus on the little things and doing it in a repetitious manner, so when it comes game time it's easy."
Perhaps the surprise about USF's progress so far is the younger players aren't really holding the Bulls back too much and have actually been pushing the veterans at certain positions.
"We've been out here two days now and (the younger offensive linemen) pretty much know as much or a little bit more than some of the older guys that have been here," senior guard Danous Estenor said.
Fitch called USF's younger players on offense "very mature" with solid football IQs and Estenor attributes a lot of those qualities to a hard working mentality guys had well before fall camp got underway.
"In the summer time a lot of the older guys harped on the younger guys to really get in their playbooks and asked them, 'What do you understand? What do you need help with? It's kind of like a big brother, little brother type of deal," he said.
Stars have taken a supporting role to help the newcomers along, and Fitch said the Bulls have taken a positive approach to the process of getting everyone on the same page.
"There is no such thing as a dumb question," he said.
Senior tight end Evan Landi couldn't help but sport a smile when talking about USF's youngsters. He's quick to point out the talent they have on the field, but has really been blown away with what they're doing in the classroom.
"What has impressed me are the questions they ask during the meetings," Landi said. "Our tight end/fullback room, Sean Price and Jackson Cannon have a lot of questions and that's the best way to learn. We've all been there, so either coach (Peter) Vaas corrects them or they ask some of the older guys. We've made the same mistakes, so we like to catch that before it gets on the field."
USF's progress on offense will go a long way in a short period of time. The Bulls will find out who really has a chance to contribute this season when the team takes part in its first scrimmage 5:30 p.m. Monday.
"What we're really shooting for is to get our young guys ready for that first scrimmage," Fitch said. "When we put those young guys out there - incoming freshmen, the guys that redshirted a year ago - when they get into that scrimmage, we're trying to formulate the depth chart and really find out who is going to be able to help us this fall."
Lou Holtz Visits Camp
USF got a nice surprise on Thursday afternoon when Lou Holtz, Skip's father, was cruising around in a golf cart on the grass at practice and he marveled at what the Bulls have to work with at Vero Beach Sports Village.
"We would take our teams away for fall camp, but we never had the facilities or the accommodations that you have here," said Holtz, who won 249 games as a college coach and a national title with Notre Dame. "This was the Dodgers' training camp. You can imagine the food, the housing; the facilities would be pretty good for the Dodgers and it's just the same here. This is as good of a setup as anybody has in the country."
USF's players certainly appreciated Holtz making the drive to camp and the current ESPN college football analyst said he plans to be back out for Saturday's scrimmage. Holtz talked to the team after Thursday's practice about work ethic and challenged the Bulls' units to bring it on a daily basis.
"How much you improve depends upon whether each side continues to improve," he told reporters afterwards. "If your defense dominates all spring, they aren't going to get better and your offense isn't going to get better. If one day your offense looks better than your defense and the next day vice versa then that's how you really improve."
Woolard Also Stops by
USF Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Doug Woolard also spent the day at camp and continues to be impressed by Vero Beach Sports Village that's hosting the Bulls for the third straight year.
"They've done a tremendous job of improving this facility every year for us," Woolard said. "They've done it again with a brand new football practice fields and you can tell when you talk to the administration here that they really want us to be here and they care about the Bulls."
Quote of the Day
"I had a chance to visit with players during lunch today and out on the practice field, and to an individual they're excited and looking forward to the year. This is a great way to set the tone and a great way to build team chemistry." - Doug Woolard
Melinda Leigh -- @miss_melinda09
Planning @USFFootball watch parties...getting EXCITED!! #gobulls #footballseasonisback
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