Sunday, January 21, 2018
Colleges

USF Bulls coach Skip Holtz understands fans' frustration

TAMPA — USF coach Skip Holtz said he understands the frustration among fans during the team's four-game losing streak but said nobody is as disappointed as his staff and players and, particularly, himself.

"I'm certainly not trying to pass any blame or trying to wash away that responsibility," Holtz said Sunday, a day after a 37-28 loss at Temple. "That falls on us. That falls on me as the head football coach.

"I can certainly understand people's disappointment in the program and where we are right now at 2-4, because there were very high expectations for the program as we came into the season. The team is just as disappointed as everybody on the outside."

Holtz said the team's losses — 11 of 14 games going back to a 4-0 start last season — show the program has taken a step back, though his optimism comes from the way the Bulls have consistently played close with opportunities to win the games they've lost.

"From a win-loss standpoint, it would be hard to argue that we haven't (taken a step back). It would be very hard to argue that," Holtz said. "I look at where we are from a competitive standpoint. In 2½ years, there's been one half of football where we haven't been competitive, and that's the second half of the Pitt game (in 2011).

"I understand why people would be upset, losing 10 of 11 Big East games. We're not trying to do that. Everybody's embarrassed about where we are right now, nobody more than myself."

Asked specifically if he feels his job is in jeopardy — the coach received a contract extension from athletic director Doug Woolard this summer through the 2017 season, and because of that deal, USF would have to pay $2.5 million to fire him — Holtz said, "I don't coach that way," saying no administrators have said anything to him along those lines.

Holtz has been through an 0-11 season on his father Lou's staff at South Carolina: "I've been through hard times, been through difficult times. There's no doubt this is a difficult time. I look at (that) we're close, but we haven't gotten it done."

Asked if his changes during the bye week could involve any reassignment of coaching duties among his assistants, Holtz didn't rule that out. "Those are all things we have to evaluate," he said.

HELMET TOSS: Asked about the play when senior QB B.J. Daniels had his helmet ripped off with enough force to fly across the field, Holtz didn't question the absence of a face mask penalty but said he was glad there wasn't any significant injury. "I think it's scary. It's really scary to have your helmet ripped off with that speed and velocity," Holtz said. "Thank goodness it came off. If it didn't, he could have been severely injured. I thought that's what all these new rules were in place to do, to protect the defenseless player."

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