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Sports

Holtz has team's support

Staff
Published:   |   Updated: March 18, 2013 at 04:46 PM
GAINESVILLE -

The outside pressures putting University of South Florida coach Skip Holtz on the hot seat are serving as motivating factors for coaches and players through the bye week. The Bulls (2-4, 0-2) have lost four consecutive games and face an uphill battle to avoid missing a bowl game for the second straight season.

"We're motivated every day," defensive coordinator Chris Cosh said. "We want to get better, we want to win. … We want to hold together as a unit, lock arms and get this thing done. We'll correct it through togetherness, toughness and resilience."

The staff doesn't need outside criticism to motivate the team moving forward, offensive coordinator Todd Fitch said.

"As a coach in this profession, the pressure is internal, not external," he said. "We want to do our jobs to the best of our abilities and produce as best as we can. That's the thing that drives you. That's the thing that keeps you kind of like the old race horse with the blinders on. … You just get that mindset and that focus and that's how you work through it."

RB Lindsey Lamar hasn't noticed the fans' frustration, but pointed out the team continues to enjoy working under Holtz.

"I know he's a great coach," he said. "I wouldn't rather have no other coach here. I have full confidence in him and our team and I know we're going to turn this around and be OK."

PERFECT TIMING: With undefeated Louisville next on the schedule, the Bulls think the bye week is perfectly timed. It's given them a chance to regroup after the loss at Temple and build depth while allowing starters a chance to rest.

"We're playing as a spring ball mentality, getting (second- and third-stringers) in there," Fitch said. "There's some good work, but we're not overworking the starters."

The coaching staff is re-evaluating what schemes have worked in the first six games and which have failed, as well as personnel packages.

Michael Manganello

Gators D still perfect in fourth

The Gators have not allowed a point in the fourth quarter this season, but defensive coordinator Dan Quinn doesn't put a whole lot of emphasis on it, noting there are a lot of good teams ahead on the schedule.

"Week to week, I have no idea," he said of the longest he'd had a team pitch shutouts all season in the fourth quarter. "I think you could say it probably would be (unusual) to do so all year."

VANDY PRESENTS NEW CHALLENGES: Florida has three comeback wins in the SEC already this season. The defense has been virtually impossible to score on in the second half.

So Saturday's 6 p.m. game at Vanderbilt should be simple, right? Not quite. Actually, it's a different kind of challenge for the Gators (5-0 and ranked No. 4 in AP) with a pair of talented wideouts and an athletic quarterback who is the brother of an NFL star and gave UF fits a year ago.

Jordan Matthews has caught an SEC-leading 35 passes. He caught nine passes for 170 yards in last year's game.

"He's a talented guy who's got size and speed,'' Quinn said.

Quarterback Jordan Rodgers, brother of the Packers' Aaron Rodgers, threw for 297 yards in last year's game, a 26-21 Florida win.

NOT NFL: One issue Quinn admits probably hurt last season was his adjustment from the NFL to college, where coaches spend much less time with players. He underestimated how many practice repetitions players needed to "get it."

"That process to go through was a learning period for me as well," he said.

TEAM EFFORT: Florida doesn't have anyone ranked among the top 30-plus in the SEC in tackles, but the Gators use depth to keep players fresh.

"I think the best player on our defense is our defense," Quinn said. "We don't need one guy."

Defensive back Josh Evans leads Florida with 25 tackles, which ranks 35th on the SEC list. Defensive back Matt Elam is tied for 36th with 24 tackles. No other Gator is in the top 40.

David Jones, Florida Today

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