TAMPA — USF finished Friday's loss to Louisville without either starting cornerback in the game, but the missed assignments that led to giving up three passing touchdowns in zone coverage remained a major frustration for coach Skip Holtz.
"Defensively, we give up three touchdown passes uncontested in three-deep zone," Holtz said Sunday. "You're in three-deep zone and the ball goes over your head, you're not doing your job. … It's one thing when you're in man coverage, and they go up and take it away from you. It's a whole other thing when you don't cover them, especially when you're playing zone defense and trying to be safe and not give up anything foolish. That's the part that hurts as a coach."
Of Louisville's three touchdowns, two had receivers beating starting defensive backs Quenton Washington and Jerrell Young, with the other on backup George Baker, who started with Kayvon Webster out with a concussion. The nature of the mistakes — he estimated USF has played 70 percent of its defensive downs in three-deep zone — is especially puzzling. Washington missed the fourth quarter with a partially dislocated shoulder, but Holtz said he should be fine for the West Virginia game Thursday.
Holtz said his players played so poorly in three-deep that he won't use it this week so as to avoid more mistakes made from being out of position.
"If we put three-deep in this week, I blame us," Holtz said. "But it's a bread-and-butter coverage. Why? I don't know. I haven't had the opportunity to ask some of the players involved with it."