So goes B.J. Daniels, so goes the South Florida Bulls.
The talented 6’1 dual-threat quarterback has led the Bulls to a 3 and 1 mark thus far with the only blemish being a tough 38-14 to in-state rival, Florida Gators.
Daniels was able to manage the game without making any critical mistakes in the first half against Florida and led the Bulls to an early 7-0 lead.
However, the Bulls weren’t able to muster a running game outside of Daniels, and eventually Florida’s defense forced the redshirt sophomore into critical mistakes that changed the momentum of the game.
B.J. Daniels connected on 5 of 20 passes for 84 yards and a touchdown, but ran for 107 yards. However, the glaring problem was that Daniels threw four interceptions.
Daniels and the Bulls offense were often caught in 2nd or 3rd and long situations and the dual-threat quarterback wasn’t able to get much help from his teammates as Florida waited for Daniels to make mistakes despite Florida struggling itself with John Brantley.
Florida defensive players wanted to make South Florida one-dimensional and were successful on that particular day.
“The thing about this game is we wanted to let him try to beat us running the ball, because we knew for a fact he wasn’t going to beat us throwing the ball,” Florida safety Ahmad Black said. “If he put the ball in the air, it was ours.”
Daniels can take over games at times, but his running backs Moise Plancher and Demetris Murray will have to help establish a rushing attack that can take the pressure off of Daniels.
Additionally, Daniels has to find a dependable receiver or two who can consistently stretch the field and beat opposing teams’ defensive coverage, such as Florida.
Florida had been a Top 10 team, but South Florida’s upcoming Big East schedule will feature currently unranked Big East opponents such as Syracuse on October 9th, a Thursday night game at West Virginia, another road game at Rutgers and Friday night game at Cincinnati.
All games will be on ESPN, so Daniels and the Bulls will be under the national microscope.
Has B.J. Daniels shaken off the residue of the loss at Florida?
This has been one of the lingering questions for the Bulls-the team’s ability to win on the road against conference opponents.
A year ago, the Bulls shocked Syracuse, but got blown out at Pittsburgh, 41-14 and run over by Rutgers, 31-0 and lost at Connecticut, 29-27.
In recent years, South Florida had been known for fast starts and struggling in November.
Daniels is just a redshirt sophomore, and has a lot of talent. However his learning curve has to get shorter if the Bulls are able to become a consistent Top 25 team and challenge for the Big East title.