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Holtz: USF defense must step up at Rutgers



Rutgers true freshman quarterback Gary Nova is last in the Big East in pass efficiency, but USF coach Skip Holtz said he still needs his defense to show improvements Saturday if the Bulls are to end a three-game losing streak.


"If he looks anything like every other quarterback we've seen, he'll look again like an All-American," Holtz said. "We're going to have to try and do some things defensively that we haven't done to this point. (Defensive coordinator Mark) Snyder has a great mind, and having the open date has been a positive thing for us. As a defensive staff, we've been able to look at some cutups and see where we are."

Nova is second in the Big East with six touchdown passes in conference play, but he also leads the league with five interceptions thrown in Rutgers' four Big East games and is completing less than half his pass attempts.

"Gary Nova is going to be an excellent quarterback," Holtz said. "I understand what Coach (Greg) Schiano is doing, investing in his future. He's a very talented player and he's going to be really good. ... He's a very smart player and he throws the ball extremely well."

USF ranks last in the Big East in scoring defense, giving up 32.3 points in three conference games, and they're second-to-last in total defense, allowing 427.7 yards per game. Holtz is hoping for a game more like what USF showed defensively against Connecticut, holding the Huskies to 253 yards of total offense.

"Statistically, defensively we certainly aren't very good, when you look at us just statistically," Holtz said. "We've made quite a bit of mistakes and we've given up an awful lot of big plays."

[Last modified: Monday, October 31, 2011 6:40pm]


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