EAST HARTFORD, Conn. — Coach Skip Holtz made it clear that the nine penalties called against USF weren't why the Bulls lost 16-10 Saturday at UConn, but he planned to write to the Big East questioning some of the calls.
"What's frustrating is I go back and I have a hard time finding five of them on film," Holtz said Sunday night. "It's very difficult to argue with an official crew when a game's going on. You go on to the next play. Not that it's going to make any difference. They throw the flag, the word is final."
Terry McAulay, an NFL official and the Big East's coordinator of football officiating, watched the game from the press box. Holtz said he will submit a letter to the league office, as well as video of the questionable calls.
"I would hope we would get a fair assessment when he sits down and watches the play in a neutral situation," Holtz said. "I can look at a lot of the penalties and go 'Okay … that's a good call.' I'm not trying to argue just any time a flag drops that everything they do is wrong."
The nine penalties were one short of the most under Holtz, and the 89 penalty yards were the most in his 19 games at USF.
weather issues: Asked why USF's offense didn't have the same passing success against a Connecticut defense that had given up 948 passing yards in its previous two games, Bulls coaches and QB B.J. Daniels cited a number of weather issues, from humidity to cold to wind at Rentschler Field.
"You just don't have the humidity up here in the air. B.J. was having a hard time holding onto the ball, complaining about it being really slick," Holtz said after his team passed for 164 yards. "You could see he kept coming over to the sidelines, spraying his hands with water to try to keep them moist so he could grip the ball. He just missed a couple of balls."
Daniels attempted just eight passes in the first half, when USF had only 23 offensive plays. Holtz said the lack of passing wasn't dictated by UConn's defense.
"I can't remember one in the first half that it was covered. We needed to execute," Holtz said. "Second half, we put handwarmers in his deal to keep his hands real moist and sweaty so he could grip the ball."
Daniels, who had three turnovers after having one in the first five games, said his problems were more about the cold, with temperatures dropping from 65 degrees at the 3:30 p.m. kickoff.
"The ball's a little bit harder, your hands a little rougher," he said. "Just trying to keep my hands warm in the second half, and it definitely helped."
Offensive coordinator Todd Fitch also cited strong winds that were 16 mph at kickoff.
THIS AND THAT: USF has taken pride in its defensive depth, but only 12 players were credited with tackles on defense Saturday. … The Bulls had just 17 yards on four punt returns and two holding penalties. … With Lyle McCombs rushing for 130 yards, USF has allowed a 100-yard rusher in all three games against BCS-level competition.