Bulls Have Opportunites Over the Next Month

USF is 1-2 in Big East play, and have an opportunity to move up in the conference standings with three of the Bulls' four remaining conference games are at home. With USF on a bye week, the SportsXchange gives their skinny on the Bulls outlook for the rest of the season.

The difference between "what might have been" and "what is" often can be a fine line.

How fine?

South Florida coach Skip Holtz took the time to count up the plays his Bulls have run this season, and out of 1,171 in all phases of the game -- offense, defense, special teams -- he sees three that have made a big impact on the team and its 4-3 record.

It's a point he made to his players before they took a break with an open date coming up.

"Really, you're three plays from sitting here 6-1 and 3-0 in the league," Holtz told them.

The Bulls didn't make those plays, however, and they lost their first two Big East games to Syracuse and West Virginia.

The goal now over the final five games is simply for them to play smarter and avoid the turnovers that have given opponents some easy scores.

"What I want to make sure now is that at the end of the year over the next five games that we're not sitting here with the same regret," Holtz said. "We're sitting here at the halfway point, and as I've told them, if you don't like where you are, change it."

The Bulls, who are 1-2 in Big East play, have an opportunity over their next month to make a move up in the conference standings.

Their next game is a Wednesday night affair at home against Rutgers on Nov. 3.

NOTES, QUOTES

--The Bulls offense is averaging only 266.3 total yards per game in Big East play, which ranks ahead of only Connecticut (239.5) in the conference. The production in three league games is about 57 yards under their average for the season.

--After going 7-for-12 on third-down conversions against Cincinnati, USF now is 24-for-76 (32 percent) for the season. That ranks No. 109 out of 120 FBS teams.

--QB B.J. Daniels, who was named Big East Offensive Player of the Week after running for two scores and passing for two more in the win over Cincinnati, was a very efficient 13-for-16 passing. That raised his completion percentage to 58.9 percent for the season. Over his last four games, he is 56-for-88 (67.5 percent).

SEASON SUMMARY: USF came off back-to-back Big East losses to Syracuse and West Virginia to put together its finest offensive show of the season in the 38-30 win at Cincinnati. The 38 points were the most the Bulls had scored against an FBS foe since a 41-14 win over Memphis in the 2008 St. Pete Bowl. The victory was the first for the Bulls in the conference after three wins over questionable competition (Stony Brook, Western Kentucky, Florida Atlantic).

LOOKING AHEAD: USF has a shot at finishing over .500 in Big East play for the first time since 2007 (4-3) if it can hold its home-field advantage. Three of the Bulls' four remaining conference games are at home (Rutgers on Nov. 3, Pittsburgh, and Connecticut); the other is at Louisville. The Bulls also have a non-conference game left at Miami on Nov. 27.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "The first bye week we had, we were coming off a loss. Coming off a win is big." -- QB B.J. Daniels, on the break in the schedule with a Wednesday night game coming up Nov. 3.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: The Bulls put it all together offensively in the win over Cincinnati, getting big plays and putting together long scoring drives. They stayed one step ahead of the Bearcats once they got a lead, responding to Bearcats scores with scores of their own. QB B.J. Daniels showed how effective he can be when he plays under control. Wide receiver remains a problem area outside of Dontavia Bogan, though, and the running game needs a healthy Demetrius Murray to be effective.

SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: The Bulls took some hits at Cincinnati, giving up 512 yards in total offense to the Bearcats, but they came up with the big play when they needed it. The Bulls have 11 sacks in three league games, tied with Syracuse for the Big East lead. LB Sabbath Joseph and DE Craig Marshall have three apiece in conference play to lead the team. The Bulls have 21 sacks in all games.

ROSTER REPORT:

--DE Craig Marshall had surgery on his foot after breaking a bone in the win over Cincinnati. The Tampa Tribune reported the Bulls hope to have him back sometime this season. He leads the Bulls with eight tackles for loss, including four sacks.

--SS Jon Lejiste missed the second half of the game at Cincinnati after sustaining a concussion, but he is expected to be ready for the game against Rutgers.

--RB Dontae Aycock, who is sitting out this season after transferring from Auburn, had knee surgery. He is expected to be ready for winter conditioning workouts, the St. Petersburg Times reported.


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