USF coach Skip Holtz brought a special consultant with him to Wednesday’s practice – his father.
Lou Holtz, a legendary college coach, made a surprise visit to USF’s football practice Wednesday to speak with the team.
“It’s very special to have him here,” Skip said. “I gave him a chance to talk to the team and kind of observe practice and give me his view … kind of give us the view from 30,000 feet.
“Come in and kind of take a big overview of where we are because so many times you get into the middle of the forest, and it’s hard to see the big picture.
“It’s a great evaluation tool for me, to have someone with his experience, background and success to come in here and look and say, ‘This is what I see.'”
Lou, wearing a neck brace while recovering from surgery, also spoke to the baseball team before its practice about overcoming a slow start to the season.
USF opens Big East play with Notre Dame on Friday.
“Just keeping their head up,” Skip said of the message delivered by Lou to the baseball team. “They started a little bit slow, but to not let that deter them about where they’re going … you can’t let the past let you hang your head.”
Skip, who was in the dugout during USF’s 10-7 win over North Florida on Tuesday, said he plans to attend as many games as he can the rest of the season.
“I’m a big fan of baseball games,” said Skip, who grew up playing catcher. “I think I just like talking trash to the batters. Baseball is obviously a lot slower game than football, but to be involved in every pitch, I love the game.”
Sophomore Maikon Bonani was set to take over as the Bulls’ starting field goal kicker before the 2009 season, but a neck injury forced him to sit out.
But then-junior walk-on Eric Schwartz stepped in and went 11-for-16 last season (69 percent), while Bonani was 15-for-21 (71 percent) two seasons ago.
Bonani will have a chance to prove himself again, Holtz said Wednesday.
“That’ll be an ongoing competition,” he said. “They’re both competing. They’re both kicking well. At the end of every week, we total them up and look at where they are … Then we’ll go again. They’re both doing a nice job kicking the ball.”
Bonani said it’s more of a friendly battle than anything.
“Eric did an amazing job last season,” Bonani said. “If you look at the overall percentage of the season, we had pretty much identical numbers … me, Eric, some of the other guys – we’re all good out here. We’re just going to compete until the last day.
“I have a feeling it might go all the way through fall camp. It might be decided on the last day before the real game. It’s challenging. It’s fun. It brings out the best in us. Most importantly, we’re all close friends so it doesn’t faze us.”
Quarterback depth a concern
The Bulls have exactly one quarterback on their roster that can take a hit this spring: sophomore Ryan Eppes, who walked-on last season.
Redshirt sophomore B.J. Daniels is still recovering from a shoulder surgery he had in late January and won’t participate in full contact situations this spring.
Touted incoming freshman quarterback Jamius Gunsby won’t arrive until the fall, and former quarterback Evan Landi will concentrate solely on wide receiver this spring.
“Oh, yeah, it’s a concern,” said offensive coordinator Todd Fitch, whose starting his first season with USF. “The positive is these (younger) guys are getting a ton of reps. We’ll have to have a backup plan for the fall. That may include moving other players around if we have a long-term injury, and then the freshman Gunsby – he’s got to get here this summer and kind of jump in with both feet so we can get him prepared as fast as we can.
“We have depth issues there obviously. Those guys are getting a lot of experience, so in the long run, it’s going to make them better players.”
Holtz said Landi won’t return to quarterback unless he has to.
USF’s first scrimmage is Saturday. Holtz said Daniels will get the majority of reps.
Holtz said Eppes, who took reps with sophomore punter Justin Brockhaus-Kann at quarterback Wednesday, will get more Saturday.
“This was his real first work in pads, where everything was going live around him and it showed,” Holtz said of Eppes, who missed the previous two practices with the flu. “He’ll get some work on Saturday.”