USF finally ended its road woes at Louisville with a 24-21 overtime win over the Cards. In OT, the Bulls got a huge defensive stop on 4th-and-1 and kicker Maikon Bonani nailed a 37-yard field goal stunning 43,887 fans, and kept the Bulls in the conference race and bowl eligible for the sixth straight season. Here are the post game comments courtesy LVU SID
USF head coach Skip Holtz
"Great win for the program, really, a great win for the program. We've talked to our players all week about the score when we played up here the last three years, which was 104-39 or something like that, and I keep hearing that South Florida has never won here at Louisville and there were a lot of challenges that we put on this team. This team worked extremely hard all week, and I thought they really handled some adversity. We had a little bit of plane problems last night. We got in to the hotel at about 10:30 p.m. and kind of had our meetings, tried to get everything done because we knew we had an early wake up call this morning and get going. You almost felt like you went from Thursday to their putting the ball on the tee and you're just like `slow down,' it's going too fast. But these boys handled it really well and they came out and played together as a team.
I give Charlie Strong, Vance Bedford and the Louisville staff an awful lot of credit. They have a very mature football team with all of the seniors and upperclassmen and they're playing well. I thought they had a good game with what they were doing defensively, like bringing a lot of pressure and doing some of those types of things. But at the end of the day, I think this one came down to just a total team win. We could talk about B.J. Daniel's throw to Dontavia Bogan and the phenomenal catch he made at the goal line there on the deep ball. We could talk about Lindsey Lamar's probably one of the most impressive 100 yard kick returns you're going to see with the job that he did hitting it up the middle. You can talk about the defense coming up with a fourth-and-inches stop in overtime, which was just absolutely huge. And I know statistically this game wasn't pretty. Third down, we weren't very good. We kept having to punt the ball and we didn't punt it as well as we wanted. We didn't execute as an offense as well as we wanted. We let them run the ball too much like letting Powell have 31 carries and for 150 yards and you could look at all those things negatives to say `Wow,' but they believed, they competed and encouraged each other. This was a great team win and I'm just very proud of the players and the mind-set they had and the togetherness they had in that locker room and the smiles on their faces."
(On the team's ugly win)
"No, there's no such thing as an ugly win. There's winning ugly, but there's no such thing as an ugly win. Those are two different things. No, it was ugly in a lot of places, but the bottom line is this team found a way to win. Ugly is when you look at these stats and see 2-of-14 on third down, and when you look at some of those numbers and see 87 yards passing, yeah, I would like to have that at 460 yards and 100 percent on third down and you lose? I say no thank you, I'll take the win we got and that's when I say there were a lot of things about this win that were ugly and would love to change. I thought they ran the ball extremely well, but the bottom line is they believed and came together. There were a lot of great individual efforts. I talked to them this morning for a long time about great football teams and one of the qualities they possess is depth. And it's one of those things where some guys are going to have to step up. We've got some bangs and nicks and Mr. Raymond was out and all of a sudden Jenkins, who's a freshman, sprains his ankle and he's out. Jerome's been playing on one ankle and you just start to look at some of the injuries that we have and the guys that were out of the game and a lot of young guys were in there. And the touchdown pass they throw and oh, Ricardo Dixon's in the game and he probably hadn't played 20 defensive plays all year and all of a sudden he's stuck out there. But like I said, they kept competing and I'm really proud of this team. It's a great tribute to the seniors and the way they kept believing."
(Lamar kick-off return for a touchdown)
"That's why I said it was more of the impressive 100 yard kick returns you're going to see because he broke tackles, turned and split it and ran into the pile, broke through some tackles, cut back to his left, slowed down let everybody catch up to him so he had some blockers, cut back in against the grain. And when you're down on the field you can't see and you're thinking, `How close is he to he sideline, did he step out of bounds?' I'm looking for flags and he kept running and when he cut it back inside it was pretty and he's a special player and he is just gaining more and more confidence back there for the very first one. And he said `Coach, I'll be honest, I was nervous and scared and everybody running after you and you watch him now and he wants that ball and he is getting a great feel for it. With his speed, he's got a chance to do some things. But I was impressed with Shield's return because that gave us the opportunity to kick the field goal at the end of regulation and all I kept screaming was `hold on big boy' because he was rumbling right on up the field. But like I said, great team win and we could talk about great individual performances on defense and offense. Like Demetrius Murray, he did a great job and he's been practicing but he's been limited and I didn't know how much he'd be able to play and he goes out and runs for over 100 yards in this game and just did a great job. I'm proud of this team."
(On the Maikon Bonani's coming back from missing the first kick to win the game)
"He's got an awful lot of confidence in himself and I'll tell you, the first one, he's got the wind and that was the thing, when we had to start the game going into the wind. It was obviously a field position thing. When we had to turn and punt it, we didn't punt it very well with the wind. But I'll tell you what, having the opportunity to have it in the fourth was huge. When you're sitting there looking at a 50 something yard field goal. When he kicked the first one, he had plenty of leg. It was half way up the uprights. I saw Charlie (Strong) over there leaning toward the official to call a time-out. He kicks the ball and kicks it through and the second one, he just barely hooked it out.
But boy, he's got confidence. Like I said, he went out there in overtime and didn't bat an eye. I've talked before about the confidence he possesses when he goes out there on the field. He's got that look and he just gives me that wink. It's like he told me when he first started and I said, `You're going to kick for the rest of the day,' and he said, `Be careful, I just might make it,' and that was a couple of weeks ago. But that's just the confidence he has in himself. He did a great job. It was good for him. A young player to be in that situation again, I guess he was there two years ago, as a freshman, and came through in the clutch and then turned around and did it again as a sophomore. I'm proud of him."
B.J. Daniels (Quarterback)
The throw to Dontavia Bogan and making the play to score a touchdown
"That was big. Bogan made a good catch- that was an unbelievable catch."
Defensive stop when Louisville went for it on fourth and inches
"That was big. All we had to do was kick a field goal. Our defense really came through. They have done a good job these past couple weeks."
Getting their first win at Louisville
"We are a self-motivated team. We don't worry about the outside stuff. We been preparing for weeks and just did everything we were supposed to do and everything coach told us to do. We had the opportunity and we did pretty well."
Maikon Bonani (Kicker)
On making the game-winning field goal
"To be honest I'm just glad to help the team. It goes to show how hard this team works during the week and during the game. When we got to over time and you see our defense rallying like they did and stopping them on fourth and inches, pretty much from there on I was like `I have to do my job.' I failed to do so at the end of regulation. I'm just happy to help the team."
On having a short memory
"I won't lie to you guys, I was really nervous. After I kicked the first one at the end of regulation and it went down the middle I was like `Dang it Coach Strong, you really did this to me didn't you.' I believe he called two of them. Good job by him. As I took my step backwards for the second attempt there was a gust of wind that picked up. I mis-hit the ball, so not to blame it on the wind. It was really my fault. At that point I just felt sad because I didn't do my job for my team. They had worked so hard and gave me the opportunity and I didn't finish it. Once we got to overtime and I had the quick turnaround I just wanted to go in there and be sure to make it."
On Louisville not having timeout to ice the kicker in overtime
"Honestly I thought they still had one. I failed to look up at the scoreboard and notice that they had none left. So I was nervous. I'm sure anybody would be. All I do every day at practice is kick field goals so they expect me to make them and I expect myself to make them. When it comes down to it, I'm so glad that we won."