The success of USF is reliant on two things; quarterback B.J. Daniels and their defense. This season, Daniels might be a year better while the defense is a work in progress.
Daniels was not ready for primetime last season, filling in for the injured Matt Grothe. But in his first start against FSU (a 17-7 win), he handled the ball 44 times; 23 carries and 8/21 passing. Late in the game, Daniels running the ball was the best strategy for the Bulls. Against Miami late in the season, a 31-10 loss, Daniels had 32 touches; 16 carries and 6/16 passing. USF has a larger stable of running backs for 2010, but Daniels still had five carries against Stony Brook last week. His 15/22 passing for 264 yards and two touchdowns was one of his most productive games.
The thing with Daniels will be how much he wants to run. Florida's secondary should lock up USF's receivers. Senior Dontavia Bogan is their most productive returning wideout, with 22 catches, 305 yards and four touchdowns last year. Against Stony Brook, sophomore Evan Landi caught six passes for 104 yards, one catch better than his 2009 total.
If Florida eliminates the passing game, it is up to USF's backs and Daniels to get the ball moving. The Bulls ran for 180 yards on 32 carries against the Sea Wolves. Moise Plancher had seven carries for 27 yards, but Demetris Murray will be one to watch. He had 10 carries for 46 yards, plus three catches for 57 yards and a touchdown. The key though will be keeping Daniels inside the pocket and forcing him to throw, not run. If he gets outside, USF will move the ball.
On defense, should Florida execute and Mike Pouncey not roll snaps to John Brantley, USF could be up Hogtown Creek without a paddle. They have a linebacker platoon, with possibly a different look for UF than they had for Stony Brook. UF also has a platoon, but that is because the Gators' twos could start for any other SEC team. On the line, USF lost George Selvie and Jason Pierre-Paul, but two JuCo transfers replaced them; Craig Marshall and David Bedford. Inside, Terrell McClain and Keith McCaskill are returners. The Bulls secondary is not the one that led USF to the top pass defense in the Big East in 2009. USF's most experienced secondary man is CB Quenton Washington, who only has 13 starts. Against Stony Brook, USF did have four interceptions, but only one sack.