The South Florida offense was a sight to behold in 2011.
USF finished 2011 ranked No. 45 in the nation in total offense (432.8 yards per game). Even through the Bull’s dismal 1-7 finish to the 2011 regular season, the offense managed to out-gain its opponents in four of those games.
“They probably have one of the best players in the country touching the ball on every snap,” UTC defensive coordinator Adam Fuller said.
He’s referring to quarterback B.J. Daniels.
Daniels is the catalyst of the USF offense, and while he's been inconsistent at times in his career, he saw steady improvement in his game last season. He completed 58.9 percent of his passes for 2,585 yards, increased his touchdown passes (13), and cut down on interceptions (seven).
“He’s incredibly athletic and extremely talented," South Florida head coach Skip Holtz said. "He’s got a lot of different skill sets as a quarterback. His biggest growth has been developing mentally, understanding the offense and playing within the system. He’s gotten past what to do and is getting into how to do it. That’s what you have to have to be a great player.”
Daniels racked up 1,634 yards and 20 touchdowns on the ground through his first three seasons, and he’s a big reason the Bulls’ offense ranked atop the Big East in rushing last season. He was No. 2 on the team in 2011 with 601 yards and six touchdowns.
"The guy is a phenominal athlete," junior cornerback Kadeem Wise said. "He's going to be hard to tackle, he can run it, he can throw it. We're really going to have to be on our toes."
Seeing a dual-threat quarterback will be nothing new for the UTC defense, though. They spent much of the last month chasing around a pair of fleet-footed passers in Terrell Robinson and Jacob Huesman.
“Going through camp playing against Terrell and Jacob, that’s the best thing that could have happened to us,” junior linebacker Gunner Miller said. “I think we’ll be as prepared as we can be. We’ve got be able to make sure he stays in the pocket as best we can.”
“I don’t think our players will be overwhelmed going into the football game," Fuller said. "It’s all about playing really fast, matching the speed and tackling well.”
Strong tackling is a must for the Mocs.
Daniels' weapons in the receiving corps aren't overwhelming in stature, but they make up for it with speed, athleticism and the ability to make people miss. There's also plenty of depth.
“I think they’ve got quality, quality receivers,” Huesman said. “All you’ve got to do is flip it out there. They get you in space, and one missed tackle can cost you. Sometimes you play teams where it won’t cost you, but when you play a BCS school, it’ll cost you.”
Junior Sterling Griffin led the team in catches (43), yards (530) and touchdowns (3) a year ago, despite missing four games with a shoulder injury.
The Bulls lost last season’s leading rusher in Darrell Scott, but running back Demetris Murray will step right in and fill the role as the primary ball carrier. The 6-foot, 215-pound fifth-year senior has 1,122 yards and 12 touchdowns in his career.
“He’s a solid player who can be an every-down back," Holtz said. "He understands pass protection and is a solid all-around player. We’re tickled he’s back.”
Murray should receive the bulk of the carries, but 5-9, 164-pound speedster Lindsey Lamar, a converted wide receiver, off USF a different look.
“When you go back and look, they were really good at running the football,” Huesman said. “That’s why they led the league. They just lull you to sleep, and you don’t realize they're racking up yards running the ball when you see such a nice passing game that they have.”
"We're just excited to get out there and run around as a defense," Miller said. "Hopefully the offense puts up some points and we'll have some fun."