(EDITOR'S NOTE: This is Part 3 of our 2010 season review, complete with as many Ben Folds lyrics as we can shoehorn in. Part 1 addressed the Jim Leavitt firing and the hiring of Skip Holtz, while Part 2 looked at spring practice and the summer break.)
When we left off at the end of summer vacation, we were concerned about whether there were going to be enough receivers to go around. But that was OK. The incoming freshman class had a couple of promising recruits. Maybe they could step in right away and help out.
Not so much, as we found out within minutes of Skip Holtz's kickoff press conference on August 4, the first day of fall practice. Not only did Jamaal Montague not qualify and have to defer his enrollment to January, but WRs Patrick Richardson (a bit player the last two seasons) and Jason Sherman (who I don't think ever saw the field) also left the program after graduating and deciding not to use their remaining eligibility. Add this to the A.J. Love and Sterling Griffin injuries, and then Holtz temporarily forgetting that Lindsey Lamar had moved to receiver, and things were not looking good.
A few days in, there was this encouraging quote from Holtz about whether anyone had stepped up at receiver
"No. At this point, I haven't seen anything to give me a lot of hope here."
OK then! Good to know!
It didn't get any better after the first scrimmage, in which B.J. Daniels went 7-for-22 throwing the ball and the running backs were stymied all day long. The coaches even tried running extra plays to get the offense going, and that didn't work.
Oh, and there was team-wide shrinkage, which made me freak out when I saw that Faron Hornes was really only 5-foot-5. Everyone clearly needed to get the hell out of Tampa and refocus for awhile.
On a plane
Far from the United States
Dropping in from outer space
Takes a day
Now I see the Bogans at
The motor race
Here you know the world could turn
Or crash and burn
And you would never know it
Go live where the air is clear
There's better beer
The team really just crossed the state, instead of going halfway around the world. For their purposes, though, Vero Beach might as well have been in another hemisphere. Holtz took the team over to the old Dodgertown complex for two weeks of practice, and also to get the team to bond together away from all the distractions of Tampa. The idea was clear - get everyone together during the summer and get them emotionally invested in the team and each other, and they'll fight that much harder to win games later in the year. (Which paid off several times, but we'll get to that later.) There were Bulls Olympics, there was a knockoff of Cribs, there was Dr. Lou talking about the time he burned a rowboat to motivate one of his teams, there was Austin Reiter admitting he walks around the locker room rattling off lines from Point Break. Six seconds. We're going to be meat waffles. The camp was definitely a success. Morale and camaraderie were good, and it definitely kept everyone from getting into trouble.
The offense finally started coming around right as the team returned to Tampa, and it carried over big-time to the first game of the year, a 59-14 shellacking of a seriously overmatched Stony Brook team. After a couple of early screwups, the Bulls ripped off 52 points in a row and outgained the Seawolves by more than 2 to 1. With the Gators sputtering against Miami University the same day (a team that eventually won the MAC and saw Pittsburgh hire its coach), could USF possibly engineer the upset to end all upsets?
No. But more on that next time, as the wheels come off for about a month solid.
Ben Folds - Adelaide (via Asperene)