Despite the excitement surrounding the Bulls’ season opener against Notre Dame, USF coach Skip Holtz said his team is focused on business as usual.
“I want them focused on what’s important and that’s what goes on between the lines,” Holtz said. “We call it the circus; the media circus, the fanfare, the interviews…the families. All of that stuff that goes on around college football is great. It is part of the pageantry that makes college football so great. But, as a player in the game, it has zero effect on what happens between the lines.”
There has been a fair share of hype surrounding this game, including the storyline regarding Holtz’ return to his alma mater in South Bend, Ind., and the much-discussed matchup between a young USF program and tradition-rich Notre Dame – a program that won seven national titles before USF opened its doors in 1956.
But, with four days left until the season opener, Holtz made it very clear at Tuesday’s media luncheon that the Bulls aren’t thinking about anything else except what happens on the field.
“I want our focus on what happens when we put that ball on the tee and ‘What number do I block?’ and ‘What number is he wearing?,’ not the statues all over campus, or the tradition, or history and all that,” he said. “We’re not going to get off of the bus with a camera around our neck. This is a business trip. This is not a tourist attraction that we’re going to this weekend.”
Improved WR depth
Bulls’ offensive coordinator Todd Fitch said he is impressed with where the offense stands right now, especially with the Bulls’ drastically improved depth at wide receiver.
“A year ago, we had (Dontavia) Bogan on the perimeter and if Bogan didn’t make a play, everybody else was kind of piecemeal,” Fitch said. “We’ve got more playmakers on the outside.”
The depth at wide receiver has improved enough that talented speed players like Lindsey Lamar and Terrence Mitchell are not in the top six receivers, as listed on the depth chart released Monday night. Stephen Bravo-Brown, Deonte Welch and Victor Marc are listed as the backup receivers.
To begin the season, the Bulls have redshirt senior A.J. Love and redshirt sophomore Sterling Griffin joining slot receiver Joel Miller as starters.
Holtz said he is confident with the depth at wide receiver, regardless of who lines up at the position.
“What a great problem to have,” Holtz said. “A year ago at this time we were talking about moving Joel Miller and Lindsey Lamar from running back to wide receiver to turn and find out who (the) three was going to be. So it is a great situation to be in and it is probably the most improved position on our team from last year to this year.
“All of the sudden, we have a position that was one of the biggest liabilities and concerns for us a year ago that all of the sudden becomes one where we have the most stability in and probably can withstand maybe even a couple of injuries going through the course of the season because of the depth we have there right now,” Holtz said.
McFarland granted waiver
Redshirt freshman Mike McFarland, a tight end that transferred from Florida, was granted a hardship waiver Monday that allows him to play for the Bulls this season. The 6-foot-5 player redshirted for the Gators last year and has four years of eligibility remaining. McFarland, a Tampa native and Blake High School graduate, will start the season behind juniors Evan Landi and Andreas Shields.
“As (McFarland) starts to get more comfortable, especially with the loss of Jeff Hawkins in the summer, that could prove to be a very significant addition for us as the year goes on and we go through the season,” Holtz said.