Bulls Hope to Keep Developing Depth

The Bulls wind up non-conference play against UTEP, and then have a quick turnaround with their Big East opener coming up the next Thursday at Pittsburgh. The Bulls are hoping to keep their starters healthy and on the bench as much as possible, as they try to get the youngsters as much playing time as possible to keep developing depth. Read on for the scouting report, keys to victory, and more

INSIDE SLANT

South Florida has played a lot of newcomers and other young players in its last two wins following the victory in the opener at Notre Dame, and that could continue as the Bulls get ready to host their third game in a row.

UTEP comes in with a 2-1 record but lost 28-17 to SMU in its biggest test.

The Miners struggled to get by an FCS opponent, Stony Brook 31-24 in overtime in their opener, and won their last outing over a mediocre New Mexico State team 16-10.

With their Big East opener coming up five days later at Pittsburgh, the Bulls will be hoping for the opportunity to keep their starters healthy and on the bench as much as possible against the Miners.

The 37-7 win over Ball State and 70-17 romp past Florida A&M that started the three-game home stand allowed coach Skip Holtz to develop depth on both sides of the ball.

"The last two weeks have been a great opportunity for us to get a lot of people in the game, to play a lot of people and get a lot of people game-like reps, which you can't simulate in practice," Holtz told the Tampa Tribune. "It's not just going out there and running plays, but going out there and executing things with people in the stands is quite different."

NOTES, QUOTES

--Fast starts have helped USF in the early going. The Bulls have outscored their first three opponents 44-0 in the first quarter and hold a 95-14 advantage in the first half.

--Turnovers hurt USF in their losses last year, but QB B.J. Daniels is making ball security a priority. Daniels has thrown only one interception in his 100 pass attempts and has completed 67 for an even 67.0 completion percentage. He ranks second in the Big East in passing yards per game (289.7) despite sitting out a good portion of the second half of the last two games and is rated second in passing efficiency.

--USF placed a pair of players on the Big East's weekly honor roll after the 70-17 win over Florida A&M. Freshman WR Andre Davis and junior RB Darrell Scott were recognized for their play. Davis blocked a punt and returned it 11 yards for a touchdown in addition to catching three passes for 39 yards and another TD. Scott rushed for 146 yards and scored three times on just 12 carries. He also had an 84-yard reception for a touchdown.

SERIES HISTORY: This is USF's first meeting with UTEP.

SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: USF has had a rather easy go of it the last two games after opening with the win at Notre Dame. QB B.J. Daniels has completed 67 percent of his passes for 869 yards and run for another 71 for the season. RB Darrell Scott has given the Bulls' running game some power inside, and he leads the team in rushing with 261 yards. Demetris Murray has 135. WR Sterling Griffin leads all receivers with 20 catches, nearly three times No. 2 Victor Marc, but Daniels is spreading the ball around. Between Daniels and backup Bobby Eveld, 18 different players have caught at least one pass in the three games.

SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: Thanks to the five turnovers the Irish made, USF's defense has come up with 10 turnovers to start the year. LBs Mike Lanaris, Sam Barrington, and DeDe Lattimore a 1-2-3 in tackles with 20, 19, and 17, respectively. Backup DE Claude Davis leads in sacks with three. Opponents are rushing for less than 80 yards a game against USF.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's only been three games. We still have the rest of the season. We have to continue to get better." -- Junior QB B.J. Daniels, assessing the Bulls so far.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

THIS WEEK'S GAME: UTEP at USF, Sept. 24 -- The Bulls wind up non-conference play with a third straight game at home. They face a quick turnaround with their Big East opener coming up the next Thursday at Pittsburgh. UTEP is 2-1 with wins over Stony Brook and New Mexico State and a loss at SMU.

KEYS TO THE GAME: Don't let down. The Bulls look to have an advantage on both sides of the ball over a UTEP that has struggled in its running game and made eight turnovers in just three games. Getting early lead would be helpful in getting the starters to the sideline, where they can rest with a trip to Pittsburgh for a Thursday night game coming up.

PLAYERS TO WATCH;

WR Sterling Griffin -- After missing last year because of an ankle injury, Griffin has led a resurgence in the passing game. He leads the Bulls with 20 receptions for 224 yards.

RB Darrell Scott -- The transfer from Colorado got his first start in last week's win over Florida A&M and had a big game. He leads the Bulls in rushing with 261 yards. He has both power to get tough yards inside and speed to break big plays.

DT Elkino Watson -- A true freshman, Watson leads all defensive linemen in tackles for USF with 15 stops. That's only four behind LB Mike Lanaris for the team lead. Watson has 4.0 tackles-for-loss.

ROSTER REPORT

--Sophomore CB Jaquez Jenkins has returned to practice after missing two games with a hamstring pull.

--Senior CB Quenton Washington is coping with a knee injury but has played in all three games. He has been credited with 10 tackles.

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