Bulls look to future after season-ending loss
Emotions ran high among USF and its 26 seniors Saturday night as the Bulls (3-9) were stomped out at Raymond James in a 27-3 loss to Big East opponent Pittsburgh.
As USF senior kicker Maikon Bonani sent in a field goal from the 25-yard line to finish the Bulls last drive of the season and put up the only points for USF on the night, boos from the fans echoed throughout the stadium, even after the game as the coaches walked off the field.
Im booing me too right now, coach Skip Holtz who was fired Sunday said Saturday immediately after the game.
On the Panthers final drive of the night, they simply ran out the clock to put an end to the Bulls season, a season that became trying for the coaches, players and fans.
Given USFs record and the large graduating class of seniors, theres an uncertain future for the Bulls, who started the season 2-0.
Junior quarterback Matt Floyd, who filled the starting role after B.J. Daniels and Bobby Eveld suffered injuries late in the season, said he looks forward to playing with the team for the duration of his collegiate career.
I wish all these seniors well as they go, Floyd said Theyre a great group of guys to play with. I wouldnt want to play for anyone else.
Through the air, Floyd couldnt manage to eclipse the 100-yard mark, throwing for just 93 yards on the night along with 3 interceptions and a fumble in a game that started with three straight turnovers for USF: interception, fumble, interception. Floyd also picked up two tackles one after an interception, the other after a fumble.
Against the stingy Panthers defense, the Bulls offense as a whole barely gained more than 100 yards, totaling 117 for the night.
We did a lot of things positive and a lot of things negative, and it showed on the scoreboard, Floyd said. Its something to build off of and for all the underclassmen to build for and to take into the spring.
USFs defense held the Panthers to just 137 yards and one touchdown in the first half. USF trailed Pittsburgh 13-0 going into the locker room.
Senior Sam Barrington, who ended the game with two sacks totaling seven tackles, led USFs defense.
I wish we would have won, Barrington said. I would have taken zero tackles and a win any day.
Though Barringtons football career at USF is over, as he is graduating, he said he feels USF can still do something special.
I came to this program here at USF because I wanted to be a part of something special and I feel like this program did great things, he said.
Though many lay blame on the coaching staff, namely Holtz, the overall feeling in the locker room was positive, senior running back Demetris Murray said. Murray, who rushed for 20 yards on the night with 11 carries, said Holtz isnt to blame.
Guys want him back, Murray said. You talk to coach Holtz and hes a great guy. If you look at film you will see a lot of times with the games that we lost its our fault. Its sickening to see the people from the outside looking in that dont know whats going on and think that its him. We have a great staff and a great head coach, but the guys just have to buy in and come to practice every day ready to work and to listen and take what they learned to the field. If they do that, I guarantee our record would have been a lot different now and if they do it later, it will be a lot different.
While USFs seniors suited up for the last time Saturday night, they leave the underclassmen with a message of optimism for the future.
Its a lot more than wins and losses, Murray said. I came here five years ago an 18-year-old boy and I leave a 23-year-old man. The game of football is more than just Xs and Os.