Holtz rests players to build energy for Notre Dame
After a rigorous preseason camp and a long final scrimmage Friday, USF coach Skip Holtz is giving his team three days without a full practice, allowing the team to be back at full energy when they return to drills on Tuesday in preparation for Saturday's opener at Notre Dame.
"(Looking Friday) You judge the pace by your strongest leaders, and when I started to see the guys that made an unbelievable commitment this summer, they're fatigued, they're tired, they're all a little bit braindead as much as we've been sitting in meetings," Holtz said Sunday night. "They start to look at you with those blank faces. You go out on the field and their legs seem tired and we're not as fast. I felt like I needed to get them back a little bit. ... That ought to give them an opportunity to get their legs back going into practice on Tuesday."
Holtz held a 140-play scrimmage on Friday, including about 60 plays for his starters, trying to test them in a situation comparable to a full college game. The team had Saturday off and opted for to lift and run Sunday, meeting for about two and a half hours rather than practice. The Bulls routinely take Monday off on a game week and will practice Tuesday-Thursday as normal to prepare for the Fighting Irish.
As important as the physical readiness, Holtz said he will specifically try to rein in the emotions of his players this week, knowing they cannot sustain such an energy level all week for such a high-intensity season opener.
"Sometimes when you get this excited about something, you have to make sure you almost put your emotions aside for a little bit," he said. "You can't spend a week emotionally getting ready for this game. If you do, you're going to end up tired, fatigued by the end of the week. You can't build your emotions like that."
-- Holtz said only four true freshmen are locks to play this fall: receivers Ander Davis and Ruben Gonzalez, defensive tackle Elkino Watson and walk-on kicker Mattias Ciabatti. Four or five other freshmen still could play, including tackle Darrell Williams, fullback Tye Turner, cornerback Kenneth Durden and quarterback Matt Floyd. Guard Thor Jozwiak, who had put himself in position to compete for a spot on the second-team offensive line, will redshirt due to a lingering shoulder injury and might undergo surgery this fall to allow him to be fully recovered sooner.
-- Holtz said redshirt freshman walk-on Marvin Kloss is in position to handle the kickoff job, which would allow junior Maikon Bonani to focus on field goals and extra points. The punter job is now a two-man race, between last year's starter, Justin Brockhaus-Kann and Ciabatti, the true freshman walk-on from Hillsborough.
-- Holtz said starting defensive tackle Keith McCaskill has been limited by a knee injury, but said he was told Sunday that he would be able to play against Notre Dame.