Big East : South Florida win highlights undefeated start for Big East

first_img Published on September 5, 2011 at 12:00 pm Contact Ryne: [email protected] Comments Facebook Twitter Google+center_img Skip Holtz couldn’t have written a better start to the season. Not even two weather delays could spoil the South Florida head coach’s return to his alma mater, Notre Dame.Despite his defense allowing 508 total yards to the Irish and the offense scoring just one touchdown, the Bulls came away with a win behind five forced turnovers.‘I said we couldn’t have written a better script,’ Holtz said in the Big East coaches’ teleconference Monday. ‘I don’t think we played very well in a lot of respects, and there were other things I thought we did a great job of.’South Florida was far from perfect, but nonetheless impressive in its 23-20 win at Notre Dame on Saturday. The Bulls overcame two weather delays totaling two hours and 53 minutes to secure the most notable win by a Big East team to open the season. USF is now ranked No. 22 in the Associated Press Top 25.The win also caught the attention of many around the conference as the marquee victory on a weekend when Big East teams went 8-0.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textHoltz is hoping the win will serve as a launching pad for this team to do something past USF teams couldn’t do. The head coach wants to see the Bulls become competitive in the Big East, as USF has finished each of the last three seasons with a losing conference record.And though many head coaches are cautious about reading too much into the first week, winning games in the Big East will be no easy task for the Bulls or any other team. The conference’s undefeated start serves as a sign of parity in the conference.‘You better be disciplined about what you’re doing because you’re playing a bunch of close football games,’ Pittsburgh head coach Todd Graham said in the teleconference. ‘And this is no doubt a competitive league.’No team made a stronger first impression than USF.The Bulls scored early on a fumble recovery for a touchdown to take a 7-0 lead. USF then tacked on three field goals, and Notre Dame missed multiple opportunities to score due to penalties and turnovers.USF’s controlled play coupled with Notre Dame’s mistakes gave the Bulls a 16-0 lead at the half.Then lightning struck, Notre Dame Stadium was evacuated and the game was delayed for two hours and 10 minutes.It was the first weather delay in Notre Dame’s 123-year history. And Holtz said it’s something a team can’t prepare for. But his team did have some practice during training camp in Vero Beach, Fla., when its first scrimmage was delayed 90 minutes by lightning.Saturday, Holtz and his players repeated exactly what they did Aug. 13 to stay loose during the delay at Vero Beach Sports Village. The players took their shoulder pads and shoes off and lay down in the locker room, staying relatively quiet and focused on the game.‘I didn’t want it to be a locker room where everybody took a naptime,’ Holtz said. ‘But at the same time I didn’t want it to be Comedy Central where everybody was just joking around. So I thought they were very mature about it.’Expecting a 10-minute warning, the team’s focus was jolted when the Bulls were suddenly told Notre Dame was out on the field ready to resume action. Five minutes of chaos ensued as the players put their pads and shoes back on and returned to the field.Holtz felt the team was affected by the abrupt return from the first delay. Notre Dame cut the lead to 16-7 with the only score in the third quarter. USF pushed the lead back to 16 early in the fourth quarter and led by 10 when the second delay was called with 4:21 to play.Holtz said he was proud of how his team handled the adversity. Throughout the day, the head coach reminded his players how long they had prepared for this game.‘We kept talking about how we train one month a year for a game,’ Holtz said. ‘And so with it being, whether this is a three-hour focus, a five-hour focus, an eight-hour focus, let’s stay focused on it because of the preparation and the work we’ve put into this game.’USF did stay focused enough and held off Notre Dame after the 43-minute delay for the three-point win.Connecticut head coach Paul Pasqualoni was impressed with the Bulls after catching a glimpse of the game Saturday night.‘They looked fast and they looked very, very well-coached and very well prepared,’ Pasqualoni said.  But after watching the film of the game on Sunday, Holtz and his players saw they have a lot to work on fundamentally. Though the script couldn’t have been written any better, USF’s execution could have been. And Holtz knows his team must improve that if it wants to compete in the Big East.‘They realized how much better that we can get as a program and how much more we need to improve as we go forward if we want to compete at that level week in and week out,’ Holtz said.West Virginia’s opener cut shortNo. 19 West Virginia defeated Marshall 34-13 on Sunday to finish the Big East’s undefeated weekend. The Mountaineers and Thundering Herd played just over three quarters before the game was called due to lightning and heavy rain with 14:36 remaining in the game. Quarterback Geno Smith played well in the win, completing 26 of 35 passes for 249 yards and two [email protected]last_img

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