USF coach Skip Holtz opened his portion of the Big East coaches call going over the Florida State loss. But rather than lament a third straight defeat, he saw plenty to build on for the rest of the season.
"From an effort, competitive standpoint it was the type of performance we need if we’re going to turn this program around from where we are at the midseason point," Holtz said. "But we have to continue to get better. … It was a great measuring stick for us and I think we learned a lot about ourselves."
What did he learn about this team?
"Just the way that they went out and played," Holtz said. "We talk about that passion all the time and to see them go out and play with that type of passion ... I thought we were crisper. We were sharper, and if we can learn to take that same mind-set week in and week out, we have a chance to potentially reach our potential. But we can’t go out and play to the level of competition. We can’t go out there and play to the size of the crowd. We can’t go out there and play to the opponent. We have to play for each other at that level. This football team has talent. They’re competing their tails off. But I was really impressed with the overall atmosphere and energy of this football team."
The Bulls hung with one of the best teams in the nation, trailing 13-10 early in the third quarter. They had their opportunities, but the game swung when B.J. Daniels had to leave for one play after taking a hard hit. Matt Floyd was sacked and fumbled, and Florida State recovered and scored a touchdown to go up 30-10 at the end of the third quarter and ended up winning 30-17.
Now USF heads back into conference play against Temple on Saturday. Though the Bulls are 0-1 in the conference, they can look to recent Big East history to know they are not out of the Big East race. In five of the past six seasons, the Big East champion had one or more losses.
Holtz said he has not even gotten that far with his team.
"Right now, we’ve broken our season down to the first six games," he said. "This is the last of the six, this is a conference game. It gives us the opportunity to be 1-1 in the conference, and then we’ll start talking about the big picture after this open date. We’re looking at it as a 1-0 mentality. Get through this game, get to the open date. Out of our last six games, five are going to be conference games."