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Bulls face challenge of Wolf Pack, long trip

Published: Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, September 5, 2012 23:09


As senior quarterback B.J. Daniels braces for Saturday’s game against Nevada, one of the biggest concerns on his mind is unrelated to football — getting through a five-hour plane ride. 

Daniels, who said he’s never traveled to the west side of the country, is prepping with the team for a new locale. 

“I don’t know what to expect,” he said. “I’ve never been to the west coast. Everyone says things about the altitude. But I’m not
really even thinking about that. I’m just thinking about sleeping on the plane, and trying to deal with being cramped up for a while.”

As if playing a team that is coming off a victory over a Pac-12 opponent on the road wasn’t difficult enough, the Bulls (1-0) will have to take on the Nevada Wolf Pack (1-0) on the road, traveling over 2,800 miles to play in the famed mile-high air of Nevada.

“We’ve got a big challenge this week not just in our opponent, a very talented Nevada team, but the logistics with the long travel and the altitude, all those things are things that we need to consider,” coach Skip Holtz said. “I talked to a couple of pro scouts who played in Denver, and they said ‘It makes a huge difference, we usually head over about three days early,’ I don’t have that luxury, so there’ll be some challenges we’re going to have to overcome.” 

USF will play the Wolf Pack a week after its 34-13 win over Division II opponent Tennessee-Chattanooga, when the Bulls struggled intermittently on offense. They may not have the same advantage on Saturday, when they face the famous pistol offense and the mind behind it, Nevada head coach Chris Ault.

“We are gonna go up against the godfather of the pistol. Everyone has implemented in their offense, but (Ault) is the guy who created it,” defensive coordinator Chris Cosh said. “There’s a lot of options, and every run play they have, they have a play action off of that. We’re going to have to control our eyes and avoid misdirection.”

While figuring out and defending the pistol may be difficult, the team’s biggest challenge will be making their first road trip of the season a cross-country one. The longest trip for the team as a whole was just over 135 miles, when it traveled to Vero Beach for its annual summer practices. 

Offensive lineman Damien Edwards said much can be learned from veteran players on the road. 

“The best advice I can give to the younger guys is to be seen and not heard, cause you haven’t done it before, so let the older guys lead you,” he said. “You’re getting into the routine of getting on the road, guys are not going to know what to do, so they have to get into the routine, and then it will be smooth.”

Along with the long travel time, the Bulls have to deal with the issue that’s common among all road trips — attempting to run plays and pull out a win in front of a raucous opposing crowd. 

“When you’re on the road, you can’t hear anybody,” Holtz said. “It’s like, the best team that plays on the road is the school of the deaf because they won’t be affected by any of the noise.”

USF offensive coordinator Todd Fitch, whose unit showed flashes of brilliance along with inconsistencies in the running game and frustrating turnovers, said he is most concerned with the physicality of the team they’ll face after the plane lands.

“This team is very physical and strong up front, they’re very well coached, and they do an excellent job of controlling the line of scrimmage,” Fitch said, “UTC had a lot of speed at the defensive end, this is a little different style, more physical, bull rush you kind of guys.”

Holtz said that he doesn’t want his team to get too involved in the hype of making its first road trip, and to just be ready to achieve their ultimate goal of each week, to win the game.

“It’s a business trip for us,” Holtz said. “They talk about being excited, you know, ‘I’ve never been to Nevada.’ Well, you’re gonna see the inside of a hotel room, the inside of a football stadium and whatever you can see from the bus. It’s not like we’re going on a tourist’s trip with cameras around our neck. Our goal is to get back  on that plane 1-0.” 

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