By TOM ZEBOLD
USF Senior Writer
VERO BEACH - It's day 4 of USF's camp stay in Vero Beach and the team's focus is at such a high level that you could tell head coach Skip Holtz that it's Sunday or Monday and he probably would go along with it.
"I don't even know what day it is. It's Groundhog Day," Holtz said Saturday. "It was morning practice, our first two-a-day, and you come out here after four or five days of banging. They're sore, they're tired but they came out here with a lot of emotion, energy and passion."
The Bulls got going at 8:30 a.m. and used most of the morning session to work on the passing game. They'll be back out to the field at 7 p.m., but Holtz was eager to talk to reporters about what's been happening off the turf. USF has finished off marathon days at Vero Beach Sports Village meeting as a team to share life experiences and the heart-to-heart talks have been a great source of motivation for the Bulls.
"We have a different team this year with a lot of different leaders in seniors and every night we have different seniors get up and talk to the team, which has really been powerful," Holtz said. "It's probably one of the more powerful things we've done here."
Senior placekicker Maikon Bonani, a Lou Groza Award candidate, has already talked to his teammates and his message was inspirational for anyone on USF's roster.
"He talked to the team about, 'Be selfish, but be selfish individually to help this team win. If you want to be selfish, don't be selfish about numbers. Be selfish about improving yourself, so the whole team gets better,'" Holtz remembered.
All eyes are on senior quarterback B.J. Daniels this season and his experience in three years as a starter has helped transform him into a candidate for multiple national awards. His thoughts during his time in front of the team, however, were about "we, not me" as USF's veterans like to say.
"I don't care if I throw a pass. If we win the game, I'll be the happiest guy in the locker room," said Holtz of Daniels' words to the group. "That's kind of the progression that players go through. They come in and they have goals and aspirations they want to obtain. But as they get to be upperclassmen they realize the important thing is they want the team to win. Then it's giving up your individuality for the good of the team and that's what this senior class has done."
Words of wisdom have been shared in many other places at USF's home base until next Saturday, when the team heads back to Tampa. Junior safety JaQuez Jenkins kept a group of players on the field after Saturday's morning session to stress the importance of finishing strong in anything the Bulls do this season. The message was delivered at the perfect time as USF looks to rebound from a 5-7 finish last season.
"We're having to slow them down on the field, which is a good thing right now," said Holtz of USF's attitudes and work habits.
Looking Ahead to Monday
Monday's scrimmage will go a long way in developing USF's depth chart with a specific goal of seeing what young guys will be able to help the Bulls this season.
"I'm not going to go really heavy on the ones in this first scrimmage. This is kind of like the first preseason game," Holtz said. "You're going to get your ones a little bit of reps to keep them polished and sharp in live (situations) and get them out and play your twos and threes, so you can make some decisions of who you're going to work with as you move forward."
All practices at Vero Beach Sports Village are open to the public and Monday's scrimmage is scheduled for a 5:30 p.m. start.
Quote of the Day
"You don't dwell on it, but you don't want them to forget about it either. As I tell them all the time, 'We're only as good as our last game.' We've been waiting eight months for this opportunity and we can't erase that feeling we had last year until we play again. The only thing that will get rid of it is in December when we've turned it around." - Skip Holtz on last year's struggles and the mindset this year's team has.
Bulls Getting Going in Vero
A Good Look at the Defense
Go to Bulls' Season Opener for Only $9.87
Fan Fest Set For 2 p.m. at Ray Jay on Aug. 19
Tampa Bay Times
Todd Chandler looks forward to finally getting a chance with USF
Griffin wearing No. 2, but 17 still looking good
Five USF football players to graduate Saturday
FSU at USF: Hot ticket!
Webster offers leadership for young Bulls
Charles Barkley: B.J.'s buddy
Urgency driving USF's Daniels in last go-round
Bulls picked second behind Louisville
Sign language: South Florida Bulls
Webster pressing for success in 2012
Big East preview