South Florida and Syracuse are seen as pre-season candidates for the Big East title, but so far Syracuse is emerging as a team that may do better than expected in the Big East.
Winning on the road in your conference is a good sign, but losing at home to a conference foe that you have previously dominated is a bad sign.
There is still time for South Florida, but things have to change fast.
For the moment, ‘so goes B.J. Daniels, so goes South Florida’.
Syracuse’s defense pressured Daniels by sacking him four times and intercepted two of his passes that led to a season-low 219 yards of offense for South Florida (3-2, 0-1 Big East) in a frustrating 13-9 loss in Tampa.
South Florida has had great success against the Orangeman that resulted in five consecutive wins by double digit margins.
Daniels is still a relatively young quarterback, but dealing with pressure and adjusting to what the defense is trying to do is still a concern and has stymied the sophomore and the Bulls’ offense.
“They pressure the ball,” Daniels said quietly. “They did a lot of different stuff.”
Daniels has shown in the past that he is a dynamic runner and has a strong arm, but his decision-making has come into question along with being able to throw the football downfield consistently.
Daniels ran the ball 13 times for minus-1 yard against the Orangeman. As a team, the Bulls only mustered 95 yards on 37 attempts, averaging 2.6 yards per carry.
The Orangeman’s Delone Carter rushed for 105 yards and as a team, Syracuse ran for 178 yards.
Balance has been a concern that Daniels and the South Florida coaching staff have tried to correct as Bulls enter the Big East schedule.
Daniels may have surprised teams as a freshman, but he has to show growth as a player and make the proper adjustments.
“Their defensive game plan, they’re going to turn and pressure you,” USF coach Skip Holtz said. “They’re going to make it where they outnumber you in the running game and at some point in time you’re going to be able to have to throw the ball in Division I college football if you want to win, because people can scheme you if all you’re going to do is run the ball.”
Syracuse (4-1, 1-0 Big East) made a statement in Tampa who had very little success in the Big East over the past few years. However, first-year coach Doug Marrone knows winning on the road is an accomplishment.
“You open up on the road in the Big East and win a Big East game,” he said. “You beat a team that you’ve never really come close to beating in the previous five years. All of those things help us.”
South Florida has a short week and will go on the road and face West Virginia on Thursday, October 14th in a nationally televised game on ESPN.
Syracuse will try to build on their momentum and will host Pittsburgh at home on Saturday, October 16th.