USF gave Skip Holtz more than a few nervous moments, making him feel like an anxious father pacing the maternity ward while waiting for his first born.
The birth of the Holtz era at USF had its fair share of glitches in the Bulls’ 59-14 win over Stony Brook, but it gave him enough reason to believe he won’t be wasting gas money when he fills up the tank for the trip to the Swamp next week.
Holtz won’t talk about a victory, but he has to feel confident his Bulls won’t suffer a panic attack when they enter Urban Meyer’s House of Horrors.
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There are a few things the new coach would like to take with him up to Gainesville.
At the top of his list is a punt returner who will not make his stomach churn the way it did Saturday night when the Bulls fumbled their first three punts with Southeast High graduate Faron Hornes and Jonny Sitton.
His fear meter will ratchet up as he gets closer to Saturday’s kickoff, but nothing raises his anxiety level more than seeing quarterback B.J. Daniels being thrown to the turf.
Daniels is the Fort Knox of the USF offense. Lose him, and the Bulls’ season will tumble faster than the stock market crash of ’29.
Holtz doesn’t want Daniels running too much because he fears there is no one to replace him. It’s a worry the coach will just have to live with.
Daniels did a full flip into the end zone — landing on his shoulder — that looked like a Sam Bradford sequel. But he managed to get up. The coach can put the reins on the redshirt sophomore, but his legs are too valuable to be put on the shelf just for display.
The coach’s concern about not having a run game and a bunch of receivers who were suspect had to be alleviated, though the competition has to be taken into consideration.
Stony Brook is more known for lacrosse on Long Island, N.Y., but some of the catches made by USF receivers would have been impressive if they were made without any defenders.
At least for one night, running backs Demetrius Murray and Mo Plancher showed they can take some of the pressure off Daniels, though they might not be able to get into second gear against a Florida defense that operates at warp speed.
The USF receiving corps is going to deserve some serious attention by opposing defensive backs.
Evan Landi, Stephen (with the made for TV name) Bravo-Brown and even Joel Miller showed some pass catching skills that will allow Holtz to sleep a little easier this week.
It had to be a nice redemption for Miller, the former walk-on and player that USF officials said ex-coach Jim Leavitt hit before the school fired him.
Holtz took his most valuable commodity, Daniels, out of the game with a little more than eight minutes left in the third quarter and the Bulls leading 38-14.
Daniels completed 15 of 22 passes for 264 yards and two touchdowns.
His backup, walk-on quarterback Bobby Eveld, proceeded to throw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Murray on the first possession of his career. He finished 9 of 12 for 119 yards and one TD.
It was the kind of night the NCAA should investigate when I-A teams beat up on I-AA opponents.
Now, Holtz can just hope his USF team will not become the sacrificial lamb for a Florida team trying to overcome the loss what many Gators fans consider the greatest quarterback in the history of college football.