As the Bulls prepare to welcome Florida A&M to Tampa, keeping a strong mental focus will be key to making this a productive week.
USF has been dealt some early season adversity. Opening the year on the road at Notre Dame created a circus of distractions and the death of program founder Lee Roy Selmon brought on new emotional challenges for the Bulls in week two.
Now, as the Bulls prepare to host a Football Championship Subdivision opponent during a normal game week, coach Skip Holtz hailed his team’s mental toughness.
“We talk every week about having to win the intangibles, which is our focus, our passion, our intensity, our togetherness – all those things that we control with our emotions,” he said. “Through two games, this team has done a great job of making sure that they are ready to peak Saturday at kickoff. They deserve an awful lot of credit for that.”
Though the Rattlers play a division below USF and will likely be heavy underdogs, Holtz said he doesn’t expect that focus to lag.
“When you get around a good football team – good football teams, they don’t worry about who you’re playing this week,” he said. “It’s not like, ‘OK, this week, we’ve really got to be focused because the opponent is X.’ This football team right now is, ‘We’ve got to do what we do, we’ve got to get better, we’re not there yet.’ They understand that we have lofty expectations for where we want to go.”
There is also added pressure from being ranked in both the Associated Press and USA Today/Coaches Poll, though Holtz said he doesn’t emphasize the rankings to his team.
“I didn’t address it at all week one – I addressed it in my meeting with them on Sunday,” Holtz said. “I said, ‘You know what, everybody’s getting giddy over the polls. This is not where we want to be. We didn’t set a goal to say we want to be No. 20 in the country or 22 in the country,’ and I said, ‘All we’ve got to do is continue to take care of business and the bowls and polls will all take care of themselves.’ We’re not going to talk about it every week.”