Rather then give our own preview of the the Bulls from an outsider’s point of view, we feel it necessary to let someone who follows South Florida tell us everything they know about a team they constantly follow. With that said, Cherry & White Huddle reached out to Voodoo Five, a South Florida football blog hosted by SB Nation, and spoke to one of their writers, Mike Nascarella, who also is the president of the campus’ “Primetime at USF.”
- South Florida currently is on a three-game slide. What do you believe is the reason for that? Does their effort last weekend against Florida State give them some confidence heading into this weekend considering they played a top five ranked team very tough?
The loss to Rutgers was a bummer, but sort of anticipated. We kind of thought they were playing their cards close to the vest before playing us, and we were on a short week after coming home from the west coast. I can live with that loss, because I think Rutgers is actually pretty good. Losing to Ball State was a different story. I thought “but hey, they might actually be good, their only loss is to Clemson”, and then they turn around and lose to Kent State. That loss hurts the most, especially since they beat us in the last minute. Losing to Florida State was not quite as bad because that’s a great football team, but I am encouraged with what I saw from the team that week. I wish the guys had been playing with that heart in the other games. If they play the way they did against FSU, there’s no reason we should at least be in the running for the Big East title in November.
- We recently did a story on the site about BJ Daniels. Can you just list some of your observations of him and tell Temple fans what to expect from him on Saturday.
I feel like I’m the only USF fan left that still likes B.J.. This week, he’s missed a practice with an ankle injury, but it shouldn’t keep him out of the Temple game. Daniels has an incredible ability to extend plays, and it’s even more impressive this year with an inexperienced offensive line. The thing he does best is make cannon throws on the run. I’d say about 30% of his passing yards so far this season have come on five bombs of 50+ yards. You can’t live and die by it, but it definitely adds another dimension to your offense. On Saturday, I expect to see him rolling out a lot, but I don’t think he’s going to lead the team in rushing yards as he has in the past four weeks.
- USF ranks near the bottom in the conference in terms of scoring defense and yards allowed. Can you give us a rundown on how the Bulls line up on defense, and some of the reasons they may be struggling so far.
I blame the defense for more of the losses than the offense. We just lost a great defensive coordinator after last season when he took the same job at Texas A&M. We responded by hiring the defensive coordinator from Kansas State. Yeah, a Big XII school. You know how much they love defense over there. The biggest problem is that we just can’t seem to get off the field. We’re awesome on first and second down, but on third down it seems like the defense walked off the field already. Third and long is what killed us against Rutgers. At this point, we’d much rather have third and 2 than third and 9, because our pass coverage scheme is shaky. Penalties and big plays haven’t really been as much of an issue as just getting beat on coverage, which is encouraging, but the defense really needs to make more plays. They still don’t even have an interception this year. The only part of the defense I’m a little bit satisfied with is in the red zone. Since they’ve given up so much yardage, they’ve spent a lot of time in the red zone this year, but still have managed to keep the opponents out of the end zones many times. On the contrary, the biggest concern is right outside the end zone. Teams are more likely to score in one play from the 30 than driving from the 15.
- USF has two WRs with 20+ receptions, which of the two do you feel is more dangerous?
Definitely Andre Davis. He’s been my favorite player on the team since he was a freshman last year. Terrence Mitchell has the wheels, but his hands aren’t everything we’d like them to be. Probably why he played corner in high school instead of receiver. Davis is as much of a deep threat as he is a guy who can beat the defense on a curl route. Among the entire receiving group, I think Davis is the best at his job with running routes and making the tough catches. He was quiet against FSU because they knew he was a threat, but I’m OK with that. It opened up the rest of the passing game. It’ll be different this week. Expect your best corner to get a workout on Saturday.
- What will you be looking for from the Bulls on Saturday? How do you feel they matchup against Temple?
I honestly don’t know what to feel about the Temple game. On one hand, I do think USF is a more talented, better coached football team (I watched Addazio in his time at Florida, I know what to expect). On the other hand, though, heart has a lot to do with it. And I know the Temple guys are going to be turned all the way up this weekend for their first game in the Big East since before USF entered the conference. I just hope USF can match their energy. In many ways, I feel that Temple and USF are similar teams. Though Temple is without an FBS win yet this year, they played relatively well in their first two games. That Maryland game was one of the most bizarre things I had ever seen, aside from the Maryland-NC State game last year. And no one would expect you to go into Happy Valley and win. Like I said, heart has a lot to do with it, and few, if any, squads have more heart than the players who stayed with Penn State this year.
USF has all the talent and leadership to really blow away many teams in the conference this season, but they have to play like they’ve got something to lose. After the Rutgers game I vowed not to make score predictions on USF games, but I do think USF is due for a few quality Big East wins. Look for USF to pass to tight ends a lot this week, something we haven’t done at all lately. Evan Landi is one of the most reliable receivers we have. It’ll come down to which USF team shows up: the Ball State USF, or the Florida State USF.
Welcome back to the league, Temple.