Coach Holtz: We had opportunities to win

USF Head Coach Skip Holtz talks about the Bulls 10-17 home loss to Pittsburgh.

USF Head Coach Skip Holtz talks about the Bulls home loss to the Panthers.

Opening Statement...
"Losing is not a lot of fun, especially when you've been on a three-game winning streak. I just really hurt for these players; I hurt for
these seniors for how hard they worked and all the praise that we've given them for all the things that they've accomplished in the last
three weeks. Just to see those guys go out on that field, put their heart, their soul, their effort, and their energy out into that game,
this was a very physical gI think these guys played extremely hard. I'm proud of them, the way they put their hearts and souls into this game. Pitt is a good football team and we lined up and played against the number one team (in the conference), stood toe-to-toe but we just came up short."

On QB B.J. Daniels' performance:

I thought B.J. did some good things. I thought he did some very good things. There are a couple things I'd like to have back, but I thought he was dialed in. I thought he competed, I thought he was focused; I thought he did a pretty good job today. There's a couple things that come to mind that again as a coach you'd like to see them hit on third down situations where, felt from a read standpoint, whether he was reading the field or the boundary, but I thought he did a pretty good job today competing. We didn't ask him to do a lot until later in the game and I thought he gave them the awesome opportunities on some deep balls.

On the final drive:

Well, there were some miscommunications and I don't know if the signal was given from the sideline. We called a play, but a couple of the players on the field saw the clock play, which you don't move. Snap the ball, throw it in the dirt and it's over. B.J. saw the call, a couple other guys saw the clock play. I thought we would try to hit one more ball to give us the middle of the field, to be able to save our timeout. We had just made a first down, so go ahead and call a play and lets get up on the ball and call it. Unfortunately, like I said, a lot of guys thought there was some miscommunication in there and I don't know where the missed signal came from. I don't know if somebody on the same sideline signaled something else, but a couple players said that they saw it.

On the number of mistakes:

We certainly didn't play our best game. Evan Landi, I don't believe, has dropped a ball all year and on the scramble B.J. did a great job at being patient, he worked back inside, threw it. It would've been a nice third down to have, we just didn't execute on it. We got a chop block on another one, you know that was, I'd have to see it all on film with everything, but there were some penalties in there that stopped the drive. There were some physical things, and there were some things Pitt did, but we certainly didn't play our best game. It's hard when you know you're going against a good football team like that. We moved the ball. We had some good things, we moved the ball and played hard. We just weren't great on third down and we didn't have a lot of those big plays like we've had the last couple weeks that have given us the opportunity to put some points on the board.

On the Terrence Mitchell play providing a spark.

It wasn't so much the spark, they were just flowing so hard. We had run an option earlier in the game, they were just turning and flowing to it so hard, we felt like the option was there, we just didn't know how the backside end was going to play it. And they kind of changed their mindset early in the game. With the sack on B.J., they kind of were running their ends up field, very similar to what we saw last week, working to stop the play action passing play and getting B.J. on the corners as the game went on they started to squeeze it down more as we were able to run the ball. It's a shame because we had our opportunities, we just didn't capitalize on a lot of the big play opportunities with the one-on-one on the field. We weren't as good on third down as we need to be whether it be because a penalty or drop pass or a couple other things here or there. We didn't play perfect, but I certainly wouldn't question the effort, or the attitude, or how bad the team wanted this game or how hard they played because I thought they played their hearts out. That's all we can ask them to do as coaches is to go out there and give it everything they've got on the field and I think they are doing that.

On if the defense got tired:

No, I mean when you look at it, I think defensively, we only had 54 plays in the football game, which isn't a lot of plays. There was one game where we had 90 this year. So, we only had 54 plays. I don't think it was necessarily that. They hit a couple key third downs, but no I don't think it was a thing where we got worn down and we got tired, I don't think it was that.

On being knocked out of the BIG EAST race:

That's been one of the goals that we've talked about, but we've always talked about the journey, the 12-game journey, and it's not that you're playing for something, they are playing for one another. You don't go out that hard just because every guy on the team wants a ring. We've all got goals that we want to accomplish and it's unfortunate that those are taken away with a loss today, but we've still got an awful lot to play for. We've still got two games left on the season, we've got seniors that have two games guaranteed, and with the bowl game opportunity, they are playing for each other. This is a team, and the way they are going out there competing together, I don't expect this team to lay down.

On Terrence Mitchell's involvement:

With his speed and athleticism, we tried to get the ball to him a couple other times, just in the down-the-field passing game, but it didn't work out, whether there was pressure and B.J. had to turn and scramble. But, we talked about the two defensive ends that each had nine sacks and then inside, the guy had five. This is the best defensive front we've played. They do a great job. We were trying to get Terrence involved a little bit more. Some of the things they were doing was taking it away. But, we talked at halftime, we hadn't run the reverse yet. We thought it would be there. We ran an option earlier in the game to kind of set it up. They were flowing hard and we came back and tossed it, it was well executed. He had two lead blockers coming out, he showed some patience. Lindsey Lamar and, I don't remember which of the lineman was out there with him, I think it was Bass or Warren, but I thought he did a great job at showing some patience and cut back inside. But, it all started because of how hard they were flowing to the ball.


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