A Tale of Two Very Similar Teams
BullsVision: Skip Holtz Press Conference
By TOM ZEBOLD
USF Senior Writer
TAMPA - Fans attending USF's homecoming game against Cincinnati on Saturday will be seeing two teams that are very close to being spitting images of each other.
"It's almost eerie how similar the two teams are when you look at them from a personnel standpoint; you look at them from a scheme standpoint and you look at them from a statistical standpoint," USF head coach Skip Holtz said during his press conference Tuesday afternoon.
It all starts with quarterbacks and each team has a leading man who can beat you with his arm or feet.
USF's B.J. Daniels has stayed in the pocket more than he has in the past, but he still has kept defenses honest by rushing for 53 yards per game this season.
You never know when the redshirt junior is going to hit the home run, as opponents often say, and Daniels already has broken off 71-yard and 22-yard scoring runs this year for the 4-2 Bulls.
"He can take off and run it or he can maintain his high vision in the pocket, scramble and hit a receiver," Cincinnati head coach Butch Jones said Monday. "He's going to be a great challenge just to our overall discipline of our defense."
The 5-1 Bearcats have a player who can hurt you the same way when they have the ball.
Zach Collaros has tucked the pigskin and run for 204 yards this year and he has four scores to his credit on the ground.
"He's special and he creates problems for you because of his feet," USF defensive coordinator Mark Snyder said. "Not only can he throw the football, but he can elude the rush and that's when he's at his best."
When Daniels and Collaros aren't running or heaving the ball downfield, they're handing it off to dangerous backs that aren't small by any means.
Darrell Scott, 6-1, 240 pounds, leads USF with 482 rushing yards (80 per game) and has found the end zone five times on the ground. Demetris Murray isn't a little guy either at 6-feet, 210 pounds and has 295 rushing yards and four touchdowns to his name.
"It's the first time our defense will have faced some big running backs," Jones said.
Take Collaros out of the rushing attack and it's a safe bet Isaiah Pead is going to get it for the Bearcats. The 5-foot-11, 198-pound senior has 92 attempts for 624 yards, both team highs, to go along with eight scores.
Pead is the most dangerous back the Bulls will have faced since Ray Graham ran for 226 yards in Pitt's victory over USF on Sept. 29.
"He's got speed and power," Holtz said. "He's probably a bigger and more physical Graham would be the best way to put it."
Both USF and Cincinnati like to use a spread attack to keep defenses honest and both operate behind steady offensive lines. The Bulls have allowed only seven sacks this season, while the Bearcats have allowed opponents to get to their quarterback nine times.
"It will provide a great challenge for us," Holtz said.
HOME SWEET HOME
The Bulls' offense has a chance to get clicking again after two games on the road and a bye week sandwiched in between.
Fortunately for USF, Raymond James Stadium has been a site for a lot of fireworks this season. The Bulls are averaging 613 yards of total offense per game at home and scored 17 touchdowns in three games at Ray Jay.
USF scored just one TD last week at UConn, but a change of scenery could better its fortunes Saturday.
"You'd rather be at home than on the road to recover from those mistakes," USF offensive coordinator Todd Fitch said. "I think our kids will have a little confidence, a little swagger to them hopefully when they hit the field Saturday afternoon."
Conditions will be a lot more ideal than they were with high winds and cooler temperatures in Connecticut. Saturday's forecast for Tampa calls for clear, sunny skies with a high of 74 degrees.
"It should be a picture perfect day to play football," Holtz said. "We're really excited about the opportunity to be back at home."