Notes: Freshmen stand out to Holtz in Vero
USF's football team returned home to Tampa on Wednesday after 12 days of training in Vero Beach, and Skip Holtz said more true freshmen are in position to play this fall than he's ever had in a season as head coach.
With safety C.J. Garye missing significant time in Vero with a lingering knee injury from high school, he's now likely to redshirt, but eight others are candidates to play early -- fullback/tight end Tye Turner, receivers Andre Davis and Ruben Gonzalez and offensive linemen Thor Jozwiak and Darrell Williams on offense, and defensive tackle Elkino Watson, defensive end Antoine Pozniak and cornerback Kenneth Durden on defense.
"I say that I like to redshirt all the freshmen, but there's seven or eight of them with a chance to make significan contributions to this team," Holtz said by phone on the bus back to Tampa on Wednesday afternoon. "We'll make a final evaluation at the end of the week. (More ever play immediately?) Maybe when we were at Notre Dame, but as a head coach, I've always tried to redshirt the freshmen. I just think there's a lot of talent in this class and a lot of these guys can contribute."
Holtz said the two freshman receivers from Tampa "continue to make moves on the depth chart and continue to go out there every day and impress everybody." Watson and Durden have been talked about as candidates to play early since before camp started, but Holtz has been pleased with Pozniak, who shifted from linebacker to end at the start of camp because of "the way he can rush the passer and come off the edge."
-- On camp as a whole: "I think we were able to be successful, not just because we have a great coaching staff with everybody together and going back over there knowing exactly what to expect, but I think we were able to have such a successful camp because of the attitude of the players. The work habits they put in, the focus they had. I was really pleased with the work we got in while we were there."
-- On injuries that could persist to South Bend: "(Redshirt freshman guard Tony) Kibler. He hurt his shoulder the other day and we have to find out about him. Cory Grissom came back and practiced today and (Mark) Popek is supposed to be back (Thursday). We get those guys back, that will help. We have some back spasms, some bumps and bruises where guys will miss a day or two. At this point, not anythng serious outside Garye and Kibler. (Garye) really hasn't injured it. It's an old injury that's flared up on him and created a lot of swelling. They'll do some tests to see what's creating the swelling and what's the best way to handle it."
-- On fullback Armando Sanchez going back to linebacker: "We moved him over (to fullback) and I think he's done a nice job. He's such an unselfish young man and wants to contribute any way he can. Since we moved him over, (Chris) Breit had become an addition and when you look at Tye Turner coming in, both having the size that they do, they bring a little more to the fullback position. With us looking at redshirting the (freshman) linebackers, we felt like we needed a little more depth there at linebacker and Armando was excited to go back. He has such an incredible attitude. I want to find him a role and give him a chance to get on the field and help this football team. I expect him to play another major role for us on special teams."
-- On the weather in Vero: "Last year, we had much more heat. This year, we just had so much rain. We had to jockey the schedule around a little bit, but it really wasn't bad at all. Today was a really hot day, but outside of that, it's been very manageable. We haven't been dealing with heat indexes in the triple digits. We just had to dance around a couple of lighting storms and move some things around. The team did a real nice job of handing a little adversity in moving practices around."