TAMPA — When Skip Holtz looks back on a frustrating, disappointing 5-7 season, he can't help but notice the way players didn't learn from each other's mistakes, especially when it came to avoiding turnovers late in close games.
"We can't have everybody make the same mistake and then go, 'Okay, now I get it,' " Holtz said Sunday. "(Freshman receiver) Andre (Davis) made it (against Louisville). Let's all learn from Andre's mistake. It's like, 'Your brother just burned his hand sticking it on the stove. It's hot. Don't you do the same thing.' We've got to do a better job as coaches."
One costly mistake in Thursday's season-ending loss to West Virginia was when QB B.J. Daniels lost a fumble with 3:02 left in a tie game, setting up the Mountaineers' winning field goal as time expired. Daniels has been criticized for running with the ball away from his body, but Holtz said perhaps the repercussions of this mistake will carry more weight toward correcting it.
"It is something we've talked about, pointed out, something we've addressed," Holtz said. "Maybe it takes something like that to say, 'Wow, all right, what they're saying is true. Eventually it's going to cost us a game.' "
In hindsight, with West Virginia out of timeouts, USF could have simply called three running plays to run off the clock and taken a reasonable field-goal attempt with a chance to win.
"Hindsight, looking back, yeah, I wish I would have gotten two backs and two tight ends and just ran the ball into the line three times and kicked the field goal," Holtz said. "At the same point in time, we put the ball in our best offensive player's hands for the way he was playing. … Believe me, I've second-guessed and questioned every call, defense, everything else you make as you go back and watch the film."
Asked if he'll put together a reel of the Bulls' late-game mistakes that have cost them so many fourth-quarter leads, Holtz said there would be a lot of such review in the offseason.
"They will see them. We'll probably watch the last 10 minutes of about 10 football games, all offseason," Holtz said. "We need to understand what you have to do to win. I don't know everything we're going to do to get that point across, to teach it. We definitely have some great teaching moments from this season."
THIS AND THAT: Stan Heath has benefited greatly from incoming transfers like G Victor Rudd and F Augustus Gilchrist, but three former Bulls scholarship players are now playing small-school basketball: PG Anthony Crater at NAIA's Georgetown College, PG Shedrick Haynes at Division II Tarleton State and F Eladio Espinosa, now at his third school at Division II University of Charleston. … Former USF offensive coordinator Greg Gregory was fired this week after three seasons in the same role at startup South Alabama, which is now I-AA. … USF soccer standout Dom Dwyer, who led the Big East with 16 goals, is a semifinalist for the Hermann Trophy, the top honor in college soccer.
Times writer Greg Auman can be reached at email@example.com and at (813) 226-3346. Check out his blog at tampabay.com/blogs/bulls and follow him at Twitter.com/gregauman.