USF returned to its regular practice schedule Sunday, following an intense bye week that featured three days of afternoon practices.
In Monday’s Big East coaches teleconference, USF coach Skip Holtz said the Bulls have learned much from the mistakes they made in last month’s 44-17 loss to Pittsburgh after an extra-physical week of practices.
“Last week, we had a full week of more or less spring practice, camp-type atmosphere, where we went ones on ones and twos on twos and we did an awful lot of team,” he said. “We got probably 450 reps of team last week.”
Holtz also spoke of the team’s attitude going forward.
“The attitude of the team was great,” he said. “I think they were disappointed in our performance, and I think they’re really excited and ready to get back out onto the field. I thought it was a very productive open date for us … It really gave us an opportunity to spend some time with our players and see where we were and what we needed to do to go forward.”
Holtz said USF’s focus has shifted solely toward Saturday’s game against UConn and that the Huskies should not be underestimated because of their 2-4 record.
“I know they are sitting here as a 2-4 football team right now, but they are three points away in one game, four points away in another, six points away … They’re probably sitting here from three points away from being 5-1 and when you look at the 10-9 score at halftime of West Virginia, I’ve really been impressed with them,” he said.
Holtz said he’s been impressed with the tenacity of UConn’s defense early this season.
“They’re a very aggressive group, they’re an active group,” he said. “I think they do some great things scheme-wise to outnumber you in the box, but they are going to stop the run.”
Huskies junior cornerback Dwayne Gratz, who has 26 tackles this season, has impressed Holtz.
“I think Gratz is a very aggressive corner,” he said. “I’ve been really impressed with him, but again, when you talk about them defensively, they are a physical group up front and they’re doing some things scheme-wise to give you a problem running the ball, and that’s where we have had success.”
The Bulls might be unable to rely on their running game against a Huskies defense that has only allowed an average of 74 yards per game, which ranks sixth in the nation.