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Mistake-free Daniels a big positive
Posted Sep 5, 2011 by Adam Adkins
Updated Sep 5, 2011 at 01:15 AM
USF coach Skip Holtz admits the Bulls offense wasn’t particularly sharp in Saturday’s season-opening win at Notre Dame and that some things areas need improvement.
When assessing the play of quarterback B.J. Daniels, though, Holtz was pleased, especially with Daniels’ decision making. Daniels didn’t have gaudy statistics, completing 18 of 30 passes for 128 yards while adding another 37 yards rushing, but the one that mattered most was the zero in the turnover column.
“I can’t say enough positive things about the way he managed the game and protected the ball - light years away from where we were at Florida a year ago,” Holtz said. “Coming over to the sideline, talking to him, he’s telling you, ‘Coach, I saw the safety roll down, the other safety went over the top, the linebackjer got in the window, I didn’t feel like I could force it in there.’ You watch the film and that’s what happened.
“A year ago, it was, ‘What’d the linebacker do? It was, ‘I have no idea. There were big guys running at me.’ Last year he had no clue, where this year he’s seeing the field, he was calm, he was poised.
“I thought he has, and I said this earlier, what a difference a year makes. I kept saying the biggest growth in him was his maturity as a football player and being able to manage the game. He did a great job securing the ball. He never put it in danger.”
One specific area the Bulls could improve in is third-down efficiency, a trouble spot for the offense last season. The Bulls, who finished 113th out of 120 FBS programs in third-down efficiency (31 percent) in 2010, converted just two of 14 third downs against the Irish. However, Holtz said oftentimes the offense shot didn’t help its cause on first down, setting up less-than-ideal situations.
“We were 0-for-6 on play-action passes on first down, and there are guys open. Just being able to find them, protection breakdown, proper read, an errant throw, a lot of those little breakdowns,” Holtz said. “Now you’re in second-and-10, you’re putting yourself behind the chains. We were in way too many third-and-longs. When we can get to the point where first-down, play-action pass we were five-for-six, four of six. We did some good things and were able to keep some drives alive, but that hurt us on a number of drives.”