USF coaches got early start on Rutgers preparation
TAMPA -- Challenged with a short week preparing for Thursday night's home game against Rutgers after a thrilling road win at Nevada, USF's coaches got an early start, completing their normal postgame video breakdown on laptops on the Bulls' flight home overnight into Sunday morning.
USF coach Skip Holtz said the team didn't land in Tampa until about 3 a.m. Sunday, but by then, he had already graded film from USF's wild 32-31 win against Nevada on the first leg. By the time the team's charter flight stopped in Oklahoma City to refuel, he was ready to break down Rutgers' season-opening win against Tulane, with video of the Scarlet Knights' Saturday win against Howard waiting when he got to the office.
"Before the plane took off, I had a laptop in front of me with the game on it," Holtz said. "They are very good batteries. That was five hours in the air, and they worked tremendously the whole five hours, because it was on."
In truth, the Bulls had started scouting Rutgers over the summer, anticipating the short week and looking over last season's tapes and building a preliminary scouting report, knowing there would be some changes as the team moves from coach Greg Schiano -- now with the Bucs -- to his former assistant, Kyle Flood.
"I think they have a really good running game. ... their offensive line is doing some good things," Holtz said. "Defensively, they're just as strong and aggressive as ever. They led our league in defense a year ago, and I think they're 1 or 2 in pretty much every statistical category."
INJURY UPDATE: Holtz said he's encouraged by the recovery of senior cornerback Kayvon Webster, who injured his right leg in the third quarter and did not return. Webster was optimistic after the game he would play against Rutgers as well. Holtz said it's too early to tell on receiver Sterling Griffin, who injured his right knee and watched the second half on crutches on the sidelines.
Holtz said running back Marcus Shaw, who missed Saturday's game with an ankle injury, "ran around some" Sunday night, but was "still hobbled" and unsure if he would be available Thursday. He could return to practice on Tuesday, Holtz said.
FLAGS FLYING: Holtz was especially unhappy about the number of penalties USF committed in Saturday's win -- 13 for 107, including a pair of 15-yard penalties on one drive by the defense. The Bulls gave Nevada four first downs with penalties in all.
"We need to eliminate the penalties. Those are going to stop," he said. "I've had about enough of the penalties. I don't want to wait til we lose to make an issue about it. It's a lack of discipline on our part, as a team, as a staff."
CARDIAC BY DESIGN: Saturday's comeback -- the Bulls trailed by 15 points in the second quarter -- was the second-largest in Bulls history, topped only by erasing a 17-point deficit in beating Kansas in 2008. And no USF team has ever come back from a double-digit fourth-quarter deficit as the Bulls did after trailing by 11 with three minutes to play. Holtz said the close margin is ideal for accomplishing the team's goal while still making it abundantly clear that much progress has to be made all over the field.
"If I could write the perfect script, I'd win every game by a point. I don't know that my heart is going to be able to take that," he said. "What that does is show our football team that they want to be good and they know they have to keep improving on some things, but still finding a way to win."