TSX: USF - UF Scouting Report

USF made no secret of its desire to make an impact in the state's traditional college football scene, scheduling games with each of the Florida powerhouses. Last year's win over Florida State was the first step and this weekend's game at Florida is the next big measuring stick. The Sports Xchange gives its report on the upcoming USF-UF match-up

The way USF coach Skip Holtz looks at it, the upcoming game against Florida isn't going to make or break the Bulls' season.

"This season is not about whether we win or lose this football game," Holtz said. "This season is about how we respond to either one of those.

"As I've said before, if we were fortunate enough to win this game and lose the rest of them I would be hard-pressed to say this was a successful season.

"And if we were to lose this game and win the rest of them -- I think how we respond to where we are is much more important than what happens in this game alone.

"We're going to learn a lot about our football team."

But at the same time, Holtz acknowledges that this first meeting between his Bulls and the Gators is a big game.

Too big?

No way, he said.

"For our fan base, for our alumni group, for our student body, these are the rivalry games," Holtz said. "That's like saying can Alabama-Auburn get too big. Can Notre Dame-Southern Cal get too big. Those are the rivalry games.

"This one is great because it's a geographical game. So many of the alumni and the fan base and the student body are intertwined between the two schools with where we are."

The two schools are less than 120 miles apart.

"These are the games you want to play in," Holtz said.

After the trip to Gainesville, the Bulls have an open date and then are home for their next three games against Western Kentucky, Florida Atlantic, and Syracuse.

NOTES, QUOTES

--QB B.J. Daniels is only a sophomore but already has established himself as a big-play guy. He opened the game against Stony Brook with a 59-yard touchdown pass to WR Dontavia Bogan and later connected with WR Evan Landi on a 41-yard play. Daniels now has produced 23 passes of

--The 563 yards of total offense in the opener was the fourth most in USF history. The most -- 582 vs. Syracuse in 2007.

--This will be the first meeting with Florida for USF, but the Bulls are 1-4 against SEC teams. The victory came in overtime over Auburn in 2007. The losses have been to Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, and South Carolina.

SERIES HISTORY: First meeting between USF and Florida.

SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: The Bulls scored on their first play from scrimmage and ran and passed for 583 yards in the win over Stony Brook. The most pleasing development probably was the emergence of running backs Marcus Shaw (86 yards rushing), Demetris Murray (46), and Mo Plancher (27), taking the run responsibility away from QB B.J. Daniels.

SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: The biggest concern with the defense was in the running game. The Bulls allowed Stony Brook 142 yards rushing. They also got to QB Michael Coulter for only one sack. Obviously, they need to get more pressure on Florida QB John Brantley, who was 17-of-25 passing but for only 113 yards in the Gators' opener.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It was a perfect script but it was not a perfect game." -- Coach Skip Holtz, who liked the way his Bulls reacted after falling behind Stony Brook in the opening 59-14 victory.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

THIS WEEK'S GAME: USF at Florida, Sept. 11 -- USF made no secret of its desire to make the state's traditional college football scene a "Big Four" as opposed to a "Big Three." So far, the Bulls have a win over Florida State and two losses to Miami in that venture. A victory over the Gators would be a huge plus.

KEYS TO THE GAME: Watch out for Florida's resurgence. The Gators struggled offensively in their opening win over Miami (Ohio) and likely will be primed to make up for that showing. QB B.J. Daniels needs to play with the same poise he displayed against Stony Brook in the opener, when he kept his cool after falling behind early.

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

QB B.J. Daniels -- Daniels ran only five times in the win over Stony Brook and completed 15 of his 22 pass attempts for 264 yards. His playmaking ability will be more severely tested this time around, however.

WR Evan Landi -- After serving as Daniels' backup and playing some wide receiver last year, Landi moved full-time to the wideout position last spring. He led the Bulls with six catches for 104 yards in the opener.

S Mark Joyce -- A true freshman, Joyce stepped up and returned an interception 33 yards for a touchdown against Stony Brook. He remains No. 2 on the depth chart behind junior Jerrell Young but will see playing time.

ROSTER REPORT:

--WR Stephen Bravo-Brown was a pleasant surprise for the Bulls, who were looking for help because of injuries to potential returnees A.J. Love and Sterling Griffin. He's a walk-on who caught four passes for 48 yards in the win over Stony Brook.

--DE Ryne Giddens, who missed the opener because of a blister on his foot, is ready to go against Florida.


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