By TOM ZEBOLD
USF Senior Writer
TAMPA - What Skip Holtz calls “conditioning for a purpose” is serving as a great indicator of what the USF football team plans to bring in the second half of the season.
Instead of jogging or walking off the field during a unit switch, the Bulls are running to the line in practice as a team in with a purpose of letting everyone know that they mean business. It’s a simple act, but creating excitement at the start of drives could pay dividends in the mission of turning the season around.
“Coach Holtz is a very smart coach and he knows what he’s talking about. The demeanor he wants us to have running on and off the field, it does something to the other team,” defensive tackle Todd Chandler said. “If the other team sees you just moseying on the field, they’ll think, ‘We got them where we want them.’”
Quarterback B.J. Daniels said creating a level of high intensity from the start can make a difference in how the Bulls perform as well.
“When you bounce up to the line and you run on and off the field, it shows that you’re ready,” the senior said. “To see the other team with their hands on their knees and jogging off the field, that gives us the mindset offensively that, ‘OK, we got them and we can just pound it.’ It’s definitely something that can give us an edge.”
Holtz said the team has hit the “reset button” since the 2-4 start and everyone agrees that a bye week was just what USF needed to steer the ship back in the right direction.
“It’s refreshing and it’s a new start. It’s the second half of the season and we’re looking forward to having a better half than the first,” senior linebacker Sam Barrington said. “We know what we’re capable of, we just have to go out there and do it.”
Daniels Is Rested and Ready
Lingering effects of an ankle injury kept Daniels in the pocket a lot more than usual against Temple and USF’s dual threat behind center should be fully ready to go Saturday at Louisville.
“It’s been a while, so I’ve had the opportunity to get treatment and had time for it to heal,” Daniels said.
Despite drops on key downs, Daniels was able to complete 18 of his 31 pass attempts for 219 yards against the Owls, including a 24-yard touchdown pass to Lindsey Lamar in the first quarter. Daniels said the ability to scramble more gives him an “extra dimension,” but he’s happy to attack an opponent through the air when opportunities present themselves.
“Physically I was limited, but in the Temple game I sat in the pocket and was able to do some things. I’m perfectly fine with that,” he said.
USF-Louisville games have made fans on both sides a nervous wreck in the past two seasons.
USF erased a two-score deficit to post a 24-21 overtime win at Louisville in 2009 and the Cardinals returned the favor by rallying back to beat the Bulls, 34-24, last year in Tampa with the go-ahead score coming with 9:38 left to play.
“There have been two really good ball games the two years we’ve been here against them. I think there is a lot of respect for that team just from our experiences the past two years,” USF offensive coordinator Todd Fitch said.
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