In a season that has seen the USF football team remain standing and fighting despite tough blows, one has to wonder if the Syracuse Orange may have delivered a knockout punch.
Following the Bulls latest loss in a nightmare that doesnt seem to end, there was talk of hurt, pain and frustration. But there was also talk of resiliency, competition and strength terms that may be foreign to a team that is in the midst of a school-record losing skid.
These kids are resilient, defensive coordinator Chris Cosh, whose unit gave up over 500 yards and a touchdown drive with 1:23 remaining in the game, said. They are strong, and theyre going to stay strong.
As strong and resilient as the players, coaches and staff may be, the question remains as to what the tipping point is. How long can a team compete and produce without results in the win column before their resiliency and strength turns into frustration and disappointment?
After losing games in almost every imaginable fashion, the latest loss seems to be the most gut-wrenching.
For 30 minutes of play, the Bulls did everything right 275 yards on the ground, an opening-drive touchdown, stellar defense and a 20-point halftime lead.
Then, in just nine minutes, it was back to the same story.
The defense gave up an 84-yard touchdown drive to start the second half, followed by a blocked punt on one drive and a fumble to open the next. Nine minutes into the second half, the Bulls were down 24-23.
Despite doing nearly everything it could for the majority of the game, racking up 369 rushing yards against an Orange defense averaging 115.9 yards allowed on the ground per game, USF left the field in an even deeper hole, needing to win the rest of the games to be eligible for a bowl game.
On a team loaded with 26 seniors, bouncing back from the toughest of losses should be easier thanks to the leadership of experienced players. But snatching defeat from the jaws of victory week after week can ruin the morale of even the most optimistic of players.
Like always, the game had its bright spots.
Senior running back Lindsey Lamar was explosive in reaching the 100-yard plateau and sophomore receiver Andre Davis appeared to be back on track after a long slump with three touchdowns in his last two games.
But how bright can the bright spots be in a season that is dangerously close to being over before November?
After saying postgame that he did not want to stay with the status quo in reference to the defenses struggles, however, Holtz did not elaborate on the changes he was looking to make.
This isnt the NFL, we cant go to the waiver wire or get a free agent, he said Sunday night. I dont have the answers, but I dont want to watch teams go for 500 yards up and down the field or take the lead in the last seconds of games. Changes will need to be made.
Bouncing back from a loss like the Bulls suffered on Saturday night would not be easy if it had been the first loss of the season. Trying to come back from a loss like that for the sixth time could prove to be nearly impossible.