VERO BEACH — DEs coach Kevin Patrick isn't in the exact same room he stayed in 18 years ago, but it's close enough that he has had his share of deja vu this week with USF practicing at the Vero Beach Sports Village, previously known as Dodgertown.
In 1992, Patrick was a junior defensive end for the Miami Hurricanes when Hurricane Andrew forced the team to train in Vero Beach for most of its preseason.
While it's less out of necessity that USF is bonding at the Dodgers' longtime spring training home, Patrick can appreciate the way the complex can unite a team.
"Completely different circumstances, of course, but it's been pretty neat," Patrick said. "Where I am now is just a couple doors down from where I stayed. It's very close. Seeing this again, it's really enhancing our growth as a team."
Patrick was talking to the woman cleaning his room this week — all the facility's staff is wearing USF clothing for now, down to the leaf blowers and lawn mowers — and found out she had worked at Dodgertown when the Hurricanes were there in 1992.
Vero Beach served Miami well. The defending national champions finished the regular season undefeated that year, only to lose to Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. That's a high standard for USF this fall, but the Bulls are starting in the right place.
"The team is really taking to this whole concept," Patrick said. "It's already surpassed our expectations."
Glass half full?: Coach Skip Holtz said his excitement at big plays in preseason is mitigated by the realization that any big play by his team is ultimately a big play against his team.
"Any time there's a big play, I get excited, go, 'Ooh, nice play,' " he said. "Then you go, 'Ooh, that's our defense.' Then all the sudden, I'll see (Ryne) Giddins come off the edge, or (Craig) Marshall or (David) Bedford make a sack, and I'll go, 'Ooh, nice move on the tackle … that's our tackle.' It's hard."
This and that: T Jake Sims and TE Jeff Hawkins were held out for a second day to guard against concussionlike symptoms. DT Todd Chandler (hamstring) and RB Dontae Aycock (knee) were held out with minor injuries. … Former walk-on WR Justin Wilkins, from nearby Fort Pierce, rejoined the team Tuesday, taking the spot of senior Colby Erskin, who suffered a season-ending knee injury Saturday.