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Notebook: More payoff from Vero trip

Posted Sep 4, 2011 by Adam Adkins

Updated Sep 3, 2011 at 11:40 PM

SOUTH BEND, Ind. USF coaches and players have talked plenty of the benefits with the team holding a portion of fall camp in Vero Beach, a distraction-free setting that allows everyone to concentrate solely on football and bond together. Turns out, there was even more benefit.

The lengthy weather delays Saturday was something the Bulls dealt with during their scrimmage Aug. 13 at the Vero Beach Sports Village. After getting about seven plays in, lightning strikes in the are forced the team off the field for more than an hour.

“That was the first thing I said to them when I walked in the locker room,” USF coach Skip Holtz said. “I said, ‘Hey, we’ve been here before.’ We knew the weather was coming. I told them before the game, we’ll address it as it comes. Until then, let’s just play the game.”

The only thing Holtz seemed upset about regarding the situation was what happened after the first delay, which was two hours and 10 minutes at halftime. Coaches and administrators from both programs had agreed to a 12 minute, 30 second warmup period. The only problem was the Bulls didn’t get a heads up on when that would be, and they were rushed to get back out, not to mention it was a few minutes after Notre Dame had been on the field. The clock didn’t start until both teams were present, meaning the Irish got a little extra time to prepare after a lengthy break.

“Our guys were laying on the floor, shoulder pads off, shoes off, and all of the sudden it was like, ‘Hey, let’s go,” Holtz said. “It took us about half a quarter, took us 10 minutes to turn and get it going and they got some momentum there running in the third quarter.”

CAUTION WITH WEATHER: For those who wondered why Notre Dame was extremely cautious with the threatening weather that caused two delays that totaled two hours, 53 minutes Saturday, consider the weather-related events that have occurred recently in the state.

Last October, Notre Dame junior Declan Sullivan died while filming football practice when the video tower he was on was blown down by high winds. And just 18 days ago, high winds off a tornado razed a concert stage at the Indiana State Fair in Indianapolis, killing five and injuring dozens.

Both times the game was delayed, the sold-out crowd at Notre Dame Stadium was asked to leave the stands. Some fans remained under cover on the concourse level, while others went to nearby buildings.

It was the first time in the Fighting Irish’s 123-year history that a game was delayed because of weather, according to Notre Dame officials.

Sullivan was remembered before Saturday’s game with his family on hand. His two sisters are students at Notre Dame.

MUCH OF THE SAME: USF junior K Maikon Bonani picked up right where he left off last season.

After producing the most accurate season in program history in 2010, Bonani began 2011 by making three of four field goal attempts in the first half.

Bonani’s first made kick, which came at the 4:45 mark of the first quarter, matched his career long of 49 yards. He added field goals of 17 yards (first quarter) and 36 yards (second quarter). His lone miss was from 52 yards in the second quarter.

Bonani’s three made field goals were one shy of the program’s single-game record, shared by Bill Gramatica (twice) and Steve Riggs, and he’s just three shy of Santiago Gramatica’s career record of 38.

COMING BACK STRONG: USF sophomore WR Sterling Griffin made up for lost time in a hurry.

After missing all of last season because of an ankle injury, Griffin had eight receptions for 75 yards, both of which were team bests. Griffin also drew a key penalty on a third-down play in the end zone on the Bulls’ touchdown drive in the fourth quarter.

“I told you guys during camp, he really played the best of all our receivers during camp,” Bulls offensive coordinator Todd Fitch said. “Every day he came to work and it showed. He caught some third-down balls, made a jump ball that turned into an interference call for us. It doesn’t surprise us that he played well, but really happy that he did in the first game back in really two years.”

BULLS BITS: LB DeDe Lattimore recorded his first career interception in second quarter, stepping in front of a pass from Notre Dame QB Dayne Crist in the end zone on a third-down play. … Bulls DE Julius Forte recorded the team’s first sack of the season in the second quarter. It was the second sack of Forte’s career. … USF became just the ninth team to earn a victory in its first trip to Notre Dame Stadium, though the Bulls are the third to do so in the past three years, joining Connecticut (2009) and Tulsa (2010). … USF coach Skip Holtz became just the third Notre Dame alum since 1940 to lead his team to a victory over the Irish.

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