Rain or shine, first game week is 'finally here'
TAMPA -- After months of preparation, USF coach Skip Holtz has a football game on his weekly schedule, and the lightning and heavy rains that canceled Sunday night's practice did nothing to take away from that.
"I think the players are very excited to get into game week. I know I am," Holtz said of Saturday's opener against I-AA Stony Brook. "It's been eight months waiting, so it's finally here. Whether we're good enough or not is irrelevant. We have what we have and we are where we are. All we can do is continue to polish those things up and get ready to play. I'm really excited to get started."
Playing host to a I-AA opponent is common practice for colleges in major conferences, but it's relatively new for Skip Holtz, who faced just one in his five seasons at East Carolina.
"I was used to strapping it up and saying, 'All right, we're opening with Virginia Tech.' It created an excitement in camp and an energy," Holtz said. "But I'm excited about this, because it gives us an opportunity to see where we are as a football team."
Holtz isn't used to having to warn his players not to overlook an opening opponent, but said that shouldn't be a problem.
"When you really have to worry about the letdown or overlooking somebody is when you play three or four large, emotional games, then play that game you should win," Holtz said. "I can't imagine we've waited eight months for this game and aren't going to be excited. It's very difficult to overlook an opener."
Holtz's East Carolina team got a scare from Appalachian State in last year's opener, as the Mountaineers, down 29-7 in the fourth quarter, scored 17 points and had the ball with a shot to win. "I don't think you can take your foot off the gas," Holtz said.
NEW SCHEDULE : USF has traditionally taken Sunday off during the season, but Holtz will follow his practice of working out as a team on Sunday and having Monday as a day off.
"By coming over (Sunday) and getting in a lift, a run, putting the film to bed, whether it was good or bad, win or lose, you get it behind us, get it in the books and move on to your next opponent," he said. "It gives them a full academic day, a day off that they can meet with professors, can get some things done when everything's open."
THIS AND THAT: The Bulls voted on game captains Sunday, and Holtz said he will announce the selections Tuesday. He'll also rotate in a captain from special teams each week ... Holtz said the only players he expects to miss the opener with injuries are receivers A.J. Love (knee) and Sterling Griffin (ankle) and reserve tackle Mark Popek (knee).