Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

USF Bulls' special teams in need of a fix after troubles in season opener

TAMPA — There weren't too many things that went wrong for USF during a 59-14 victory against I-AA Stony Brook, but there is one aspect coach Skip Holtz said needs a lot of improvement: special teams.

Though the Bulls looked impressive on offense and defense, special teams slipups came more often than Holtz hoped for, including two that led to first-quarter touchdowns and kept the Seawolves in the game.

"Right now … the thing that we're going to have to make some huge improvements on is in the special teams," Holtz said. "They say the most progress you make is from Game 1 to Game 2. That's where we're really going to have to make some huge strides."

And USF has a fairly large leap in one week, facing a trip to Gainesville on Saturday to play No. 4 Florida. If the Bulls want to be successful, Holtz said, they'll have to eliminate the mistakes made against Stony Brook, which included mishandled punts, kickoffs out of bounds and errant snaps.

"Those mistakes are going to cost you in not just a quote-unquote Florida game. They're going to cost you in any close football game," Holtz said. "Those are the types of mistakes that will get you beat. You're finding a way to lose making those mistakes instead of just playing solid, fundamental, hard-nosed football."

USF mishandled three of its first four punt returns with the first making a big impact.

USF seemed like it had early momentum, getting a touchdown on its first drive and stopping Stony Brook on its second possession. But senior Faron Hornes fumbled on the Bulls 35. Two plays later, the Seawolves tied it at 7.

After the Bulls were stopped on their next possession, another special teams mishap led to Stony Brook points. On fourth and 13 from the USF 42, junior long snapper Michael Walsh's low snap forced redshirt sophomore Justin Brockhaus-Kann to field it with a knee touching the ground. Stony Brook got the ball at the Bulls 27 and had a 14-7 lead one play later.

Sophomore linebacker Armando Sanchez, a graduate of St. Petersburg's Northeast High who was USF's special teams captain, said he believed first-game jitters might have contributed to the problem.

"Special teams is important in any aspect. It doesn't matter who you play," he said. "But (against) Florida, it's going to be really important, and the coaches are trying to reiterate how important special teams are. You can live with it, but you still have to correct your mistakes."

Because of the mishandled punts, Holtz gave redshirt freshman walk-on Jonny Sitton, a graduate of Largo's Indian Rocks Christian, a chance to return. But after a 30-yard return, he also muffed a punt.

In the second half, Holtz put in freshman cornerback Terrence Mitchell, a Hillsborough High graduate, and said he's likely to get the call against the Gators.

"He's the only one that didn't drop one," Holtz said.

USF Bulls' special teams in need of a fix after troubles in season opener 09/05/10 [Last modified: Sunday, September 5, 2010 12:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. The people you meet along O.J. Howard Lane


    OJ Howard (far right) is seen in a photo from his adolescent years at Bethesda Missionary Baptist Church in Prattville, Ala., on Wednesday, May 3, 2017. Howard served as an usher in addition to attending regular services at this church.
  2. Lightning opens day two of draft by taking Russian forwards


    After taking a big, right-shot defenseman in the first round, the Lightning's second day of the NHL Draft was headlined by a couple skilled Russian forwards.

  3. Kids still playing for all the marbles — literally

    Human Interest

    In this world of pompous athletes, overbearing coaches, money-grubbing owners and a win-at-all-costs mindset, it's easy to become jaded.

    Eli Murphy, right, leans in to give Sierra Ricci the traditional king and queen kiss at the National Marbles Championship in Wildwood, N.J. Both of Allegheny County Pa., they won the girls and boys championship of the 94th annual National Marbles Tournament. [Associated Press]
  4. Lightning takes defenseman Cal Foote with top pick in draft

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — Former Avalanche defenseman Adam Foote said his son Cal lived in the locker room.

    Cal Foote, second from left, is welcomed to the Lightning by GM Steve Yzerman, far left.