After a disheartening conference loss to Rutgers last week, the USF football team is back on the field to prepare for their next opponent: Ball State.
In the 23-13 loss to the Scarlet Knights, the Bulls’ (2-1) defense struggled getting off of the field on third downs. There were multiple times when Rutgers (2-1) quarterback Nova faced third and long situations, converting on more than half of them.
The defensive miscues frustrated players and coaches, especially USF defensive coordinator Chris Cosh.
“It’s our job to get off the field…you do all that work for two downs and you’re sitting there at third and 12, third and 11, third and 13 at one time and it gets frustrating.
“We just gotta tighten up some of things on coverage and man and zone and gotta get a little bit of heat on the quarterback.”
Bulls maintain 0-0 mentality after loss
With a tough loss under their belts and Florida State looming on the schedule, it’s imperative that the Bulls put their poor performance against Rutgers behind them as well as not look ahead to their meeting with the Seminoles.
How exactly do they focus on one game at a time, especially after a loss?
It might not be easy, but they have Holtz. He is a big believer in taking the schedule one week at a time.
“It’s probably easier after a loss to go back to basics and say ‘OK let’s get to 1-0,” Holtz said. “We don’t need to be thinking about Florida State; we need to be thinking about Ball State.”
“I think a loss helps you do that; it brings you back…it’s not about ‘OK yeah we have Ball State then oh look at Florida State; I think a lot of people have the luxury to look forward in the schedule. We talked about the schedule the very first day we report. From then on, it’s about winning each week.”
How do the players not look ahead to the schedule?
According to senior linebacker Michael Lanaris, it’s not as daunting of a task than one might think.
“It’s easier than you think…but you gotta go into practice and you gotta go into games with the right mentality and you can’t take anybody lightly,” Lanaris said.
“You have to focus and do the best you can at doing your job, that’s how you win games.”
Lessen Pressure on B.J. Daniels
There’s no doubt that there was an immense amount of pressure on B.J. Daniels in the loss to Rutgers.
If you just look at the stat sheet, you see three interceptions and most likely blame Daniels. Look at how many plays were designed for him. The Bulls had 62 offensive plays, 48 were designed for Daniels (33 passes, 15 runs). He might be a senior but USF is relying on him too much and it’s blowing up in their faces.
One player can only do so much.
Even Holtz believes the team is putting too much pressure on their senior quarterback.
“We’ve got to do a better job protecting him up front, we have to do that,” he said. “I think it’s unfair to ask him to stand in the pocket with two guys breathing down his neck and say you’ve gotta stand in there just make this throw and that throw on a consistent basis.”
“There are times you have to stand in there and take the hit, there are times that’s what quarterbacks have to do. But I don’t want it to be every time,” he added.
According to Holtz, Daniels is playing well but players around him can improve.
“Everybody’s gotta pick it up a little bit. B.J. can get better too, there’s some things that B.J. can do better but i think he’s competing his tail off right now and i think we have some people around him that really need to step their game up and help him.”