Before the Syracuse Orange take on the South Florida Bulls in Tampa, we need to know what we're getting ourselves into and what we can do to make Skip Holtz's no-good, very-bad season just a little worse. And so, I turn to the fine folks at USF blog Voodoo Five for answers...
In last year's Q&A, I asked if you were still buying what Skip Holtz was selling. You said "I'm wavering a little bit, but we have to keep buying it because it's not like Holtz is going to get fired after two years." Fast forward a year and I'm getting distinct sense that Holtz could very well get fired after three. True?
I think a lot of USF fans would like it to be true, because not only is this a bad football team, but I don't see how next year's team is going to be any better. We aren't seeing very many of Holtz's recruits breaking through and making an impact, and we're either going to start a true freshman quarterback (Asiantii Woulard) or a first-time starter (Matt Floyd) after B.J. Daniels is gone. It seems like it's time to cut bait and try again, but the problem is our athletic director gave Skip an unearned contract extension over the summer. (And then gave himself a contract extension and decided not to tell anyone -- we only found out months later following a public records request.)
Anyway, Holtz's contract runs through the 2017 season now, and USF owes him $500,000 per remaining year on the deal if they fire him. We don't really know if they have the money to buy him out and also pay a new coach, at least not until we find out what the new TV contract is going to look like. And also, Doug Woolard is not one to admit he was wrong, pretty much ever.
USF finishes the season 4-8, Skip Holtz will be...
Back, unfortunately. I think he'd be back even if he went 3-9. Only 2-10 would put him in serious danger this year. But there will definitely be replacements on the defensive staff, including, one would assume, coordinator Chris Cosh (one of the worst hires I can remember USF making), Rick Smith (the secondary coach), and maybe Vernon Hargreaves (the special teams coordinator). After that, Skip's next on the chopping block if the team doesn't show any marked improvement.
B.J. Daniels, what kind of legacy is he leaving behind?
That you, too, can challenge for the Big East total offense record if you start nearly every game for four years. Daniels was at the tail end of a wave in college football where coaches decided, "Let's just put our best athlete at quarterback and sort it all out later!" Sometimes they really can do it all, like Pat White or Brad Smith or Vince Young. And, well, sometimes they can't. Now dual-threat quarterbacks tend to be better passers than runners. Daniels has lots of mobility and he throws a nice deep ball, but we've long since given up on him consistently making plays as a passer. It's painful to watch a 3rd and 7 where the Bulls call the right play and then Daniels throws the ball way behind his receiver or sails it into the bench.
Bowl game withstanding, this is probably the last time we'll play one another for a very long time. Admit it, with a 6-1 advantage, you're kinda sad to see this series end.
I mean, who else are we going to schedule for homecoming? I guess Memphis is always available. But yeah, losing the only team in the Big East that USF actually has a winning record against is kind of a tough thing. We'll always have Jim Leavitt beating the tar out of Greg Robinson over and over again.
Other than Daniels, is there an offensive and defensive player we need to be most concerned with?
You'll want to keep a close eye on receiver Andre Davis. Although he's only a sophomore, he's clearly USF's best receiver and he's good enough that opposing defenses specifically try to take him out of the game. It doesn't always work, though -- he had two TDs against Louisville last week. On defense... hmmm, that's tough because this is such a lame defense, but I guess Tevin Mims at defensive end. He's the only one of Holtz's JUCO recruits from last year who's making any impact. Truth be told, the defense is a big disappointment and no one is having a standout season.
A win here keeps your hopes alive for the Big East Old Man Regret Cup. What would it mean for USF fans to hoist that cup high in two weeks?
You know, you'd think USF has the edge in the OMRC, being at home for both games. But I am fully prepared for the Bulls not even manage to meet these extremely low expectations. If they were to somehow deliver, though, it would be the first Big East-related trophy USF has ever earned in football. So that's something, I guess!
What's your fearless prediction?
I picked the over in our Protect Your Unit fake gambling game. I don't see how USF is going to stop Ryan Nassib or Syracuse's offense. At the same time, I think USF figured out how to slow down Syracuse's blitzes last season and they rolled up nearly 500 yards of offense and 37 points. If it's another close game, and I have no reason to think it won't be, it's advantage Orange, because after last week's botch job, I don't trust Holtz's game management at all.
Keep an eye on Voodoo Five for more USF news and updates.