Extended break helps Iskra

The absence of games for back-to-back Saturdays has the USF football team ready to play anyone. Consider then how Chris Iskra feels.

Hurt on the first day of practice, the senior wide receiver and team captain dislocated his elbow, making him inactive for weeks while he waited for his 2003 debut. Luckily for Iskra, when Baylor and Eastern Michigan dropped USF from their schedules back in February, the Bulls ended up with no games for three weeks.

“In the beginning, I was like, ‘All these teams are dropping us now and we can’t find any teams to play. I’m a senior and I want to have a nice schedule,'” Iskra said. “Stuff happens for a reason and I guess this was a good thing. Teams are like ‘I don’t want to play, we prefer weaker competition.’ Me, I look at it like, ‘Thank you. I had time to get better.'”

The USF wide receivers have stayed healthy in Iskra’s absence with help from true freshman S.J. Green. The Brandon native caught his first touchdown against Nicholls State and has started both games. And senior Elgin Hicks had a career game against the Colonels, with five catches for 132 yards and two touchdowns.

“You don’t want to get complacent,” Iskra said. “When you get on top, some people get complacent. You always need someone pushing behind you. This week, we don’t know who’s going to start. We have three good kids battling at one position and two at another.”

That complacency may have had its grip on Iskra a year ago. After starting all 11 games as a sophomore, the former walk-on’s numbers dropped from 37 catches for 461 yards in 2001 to 26 grabs for 345 yards in 2002. He made only five starts.

Regardless if Iskra starts, coach Jim Leavitt guaranteed he would see plenty of snaps. Even without an impact on the field, Iskra’s teammates know his true worth.

“It’s big, not only having him on the field, but just back with the guys,” senior receiver Huey Whittaker said. “He’s a captain, he’s a leader and just having him around is going to help everybody out.”

“It’s great for me because he’s another eye out there to help me scan the field,” quarterback Ronnie Banks said.

Saturday, it’s all eyes back on Iskra.