Each week I try to put together a little Email Question and Answer session with a blogger of the team UC plays. This week it's USF, and that means hitting up Ken DeCelles of the preeminent USF blog Voodoo Five. We hit on the progression of B.J. Daniels, the relative strength of the Bulls front 7 and the Bulls strong running game.
This looked like the the year a USF QB would finally take the proverbial great leap forward. But what the hell has happened to B.J, Daniels in the last two games
I thought he played relatively well against Pitt, but he really did have a poor game against UConn last week. Daniels just wasn't himself and had some mistakes we haven't seen since 2009. The big one was early in the 2nd quarter when he gave up the ball at the 7-yard line after he pitched the ball behind Joel Miller. There was also an interception inside the UConn 40 when he underthrew the receiver off of his back foot. There were a few excuses from the staff about his inability to throw the ball effectively. One such excuse was how the humidity being too low to hold the ball effectively and that the cold hardened the ball making it harder to grip even though it was 60 degrees. Just a weird game, but one that we've come to expect every year against UConn.
Does anyone but sterling griffin get targeted by Daniels? The stats say no, what's the read on the situation
Griffin and Daniels have had a strong connection since their first seasons back in 2009. Sterling is USF's best receiver this season and I don't blame B.J. leaning on Sterling if he continues to find an opening in the defense. It helps that Sterling is also USF's only deep threat, and with Daniels arm strength will look to take a couple of shots downfield each game.
In addition to Griffin, TE Evan Landi and WR Victor Marc have had their moments as well this year. Landi is a former QB turned WR now turned TE and seems to be settling into his new position after moving there in the fall. Landi has the best hands on the team, and is good for a couple of first downs each game. Marc gets most of his receptions on bubble and slip screens, but is also used as the pitch man for some of our option schemes.
The Bulls have leaned heavy on the three headed hydra of Daniels, Demetrius Murray and Darrell Scott this season with basically randomized results. Are you happy with the strategy so far, or is it time for a different tack.
I really can't complain about the running game this year. Scott and Murray have formed a nice 1-2 combo. Scott has done well in his first year since transferring from Colorado, and he has shown some nice speed to go with his 240 lb frame. Murray also runs north to south, but is a little bit quicker than Scott and seems to catch opposing defenses off guard with his initial burst through the line. Add in B.J.'s speed and athleticism and its a great group to get almost 200 yards on the ground a game.
If there is one complaint is that the lack of a fullback has really hindered any of our short yardage and goalline situations. We've had to result to options or 1-back sets and they haven't been successful at all this year.
The Bulls secondary has great stats, but Notre Dame lit it up for a ton of yards and big plays. The question is whether the group itself is good, or that they have been made to look good in matchups with the 90th (ball state), 56th (UTEP), 96th (Pitt) and 86th (UConn) rated passing offenses.
Mark Snyder played played a really soft pass defense against Notre Dame, giving Michael Floyd and the Irish receivers a ton of room in between the 20s, but played really aggressive once inside the 20 and forced those big turnovers. The corners do play off a bit, and will let you get whatever you want in front of them which Pitt exploited all night. If Collaros is on his game, he could nickel and dime down the field all night.
Honestly the front seven scare me against a quality back like Isaiah Pead. We had a real tough time against the power running game of Pitt, and Pead will pose a tough challenge for us. I don't think they are at the level of JPP/Selvie/McClain but there are a few bright spots. Elkino Watson has done extremely well as a true freshman at DT this season and he rightfully earned his first start last week. DE Ryne Giddins had a monster 11 tackle game last week, and it looks like he is finally tapping into his potential this year.
Thanks again to Ken for taking the time to do this. Also check out the return piece on Voodoo 5