Notes: Misses on squib return, sideline catch review
From the Harmless But Still Really Bad Dept., we should revisit FSU's kickoff with three seconds left in the first half. USF, you'll remember, failed to field a short kickoff with a minute left in the Rutgers loss, allowing the Scarlet Knights to recover and run out most of the remaining clock.
Here, USF again let the kickoff bounce, then saw it carom off at least two Bulls before it was recovered at the 22-yard line by FSU freshman cornerback Ronald Darby. Because a muff can't be advanced, there was no real threat of FSU scoring on its own kickoff with three seconds left, but Derrick Hopkins was credited with a special-teams tackle at the 15; whatever only-down-7-points momentum wasn't lost with FSU's interception and field goal in the final minute was lost on the circus play.
Holtz said USF will specifically work on fielding squib kickoffs this week, knowing that two mistakes on film will invite Temple and future opponents to try the same.
"I would do it to us. I would squib it," Holtz said. "Since we've been in camp, we've worked pooch kicks. The first one earlier in he season was really more a communication gap. This one just was a matter of fielding a ball bouncing around. Our ball's not round. It doesn't come right back up when it lands. It can bounce around and take funny hops. We've practiced squibs and pooches, actually put quite a bit of time into practicing it. You wouldn't think so watching us field them on Saturdays, but we've put some time into it. You try to get your players to where they get their feet up underneath them, like a shortstop, to try and field it. You don't know where it's going to bounce. It's about hand-eye coordination, being able to cover the ball. I'm just glad there wasn't enough time left on the clock for them to capitalize on that turnover as well."
USF ranks next-to-last out of 120 I-A schools in average kickoff return -- we'll have more on that Tuesday.
-- Some of you asked about FSU's 47-yard pass to Kenny Shaw down the Seminoles sideline, which set up a field goal for a 23-10 lead late in the third quarter. Replays sure seemed to show that Shaw didn't have full control of the ball until after his last step inbounds, but Holtz said USF's coaches didn't have a good enough angle to challenge the call.
"Now that I've seen it on film, I'd love to have that challenge," Holtz said Sunday. "When it happened, nobody had a clear view to say 'Yeah, challenge it.' After they'd run the next play, I understand television went back and showed it 3-4 times after that. At that point it's too late. We didn't have any definitive information at that time to say 'Yeah, challenge it.' I have no vision of the far sideline. He could have been 8 yards out of bounds. You can't see from the field level over there. Upstairs, it was like 'Is he in?' and 'Coach, he's right at it. It's close.' Everybody's looking for the monitor, kind of hoping if it was close, the replay booth would buzz down and say 'Let us take a look at this and make sure we got it right' rather than us having to call a time out to get it reviewed. In hindsight, now that I've seen it, I'd definitely like to see a review of that play."