TAMPA — USF coach Skip Holtz said his team's string of close losses gets harder to take as the five-game slide continues, but the best remedy is returning to practice, as the Bulls did Sunday night, hoping to right things at home Saturday against Syracuse.
"It's hard to come out here when you just lost a game like we did," Holtz said of Saturday's 27-25 loss at Louisville. "You see a huge difference between the beginning of practice and the end, with their attitude. I think it's kind of medication to get out there, get around each other and get moving again.
"It's hard to go through what we're going through right now, but we talked about perseverance and what we need to do to continue to improve and get better."
Holtz said the game was close enough in so many areas — a two-point margin, 2 yards separating the offenses, matching turnovers until the final play — that everyone can recognize that a single change on one play could have produced a different result.
"This is a 'we' effort. Nobody's finger-pointing or blaming him," Holtz said. "Everybody has to take some responsibility and blame. Every position, every coordinator, every position coach and me as a head coach can all take some responsibility, that if we would have changed a couple of things in this game, the outcome would have been different."
INJURY UPDATE: Senior LG Mark Popek is wearing a cast on his sprained left ankle and is "very doubtful" for Syracuse, Holtz said, with redshirt freshman Brynjar Gudmundsson likely to step in as he did Saturday. It's not yet known how long Popek will be sidelined. "He had a bust on the final drive that created some pressure on (QB) B.J. (Daniels)," Holtz said, "but outside of that, I thought for a freshman who has played very little to step in and do what he did, I really thought he did a nice job."
Holtz said RB Demetris Murray (ankle) and DE Tevin Mims (groin) have minor injuries but should be fine for Syracuse.