Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib and USF redshirt sophomore quarterback B.J. Daniels have a few things in common.
USF coach Skip Holtz said he sees Nassib as an all-around threat just like his quarterback.
“He is a runner. He is a thrower. He’s athletic. He can get away from some things,” Holtz said. “You’re going to have two very similar quarterbacks who are athletic who can do some things with their feet,” Holtz said. “The difference is he’s been in that system and is probably much more comfortable with what they’re doing right now than B.J., who’s four games into the one he’s playing in.”
Nassib, a 6-foot-3, 223-pound sophomore, leads the Big East in pass efficiency with a 151.8 rating (22nd in the country). He’s thrown for 860 yards and nine touchdowns to just two interceptions.
But the Bulls will also have to guard against the mobility of Nassib, who Holtz calls “a big threat as a runner” despite gaining just 70 yards on 22 rushes this season.
“(Nassib) is working really well within their system, doing exactly what their coaches are asking him to do,” USF defensive coordinator Mark Snyder said. “And he has some escapability, some mobility to get away from the pass rush.”
The way the Orange have used Nassib this season is much like how the Bulls used Daniels last year with zone reads and option plays. USF defensive end David Bedford said the key will be keeping Nassib, arguably the most athletic quarterback the Bulls will have faced all season, inside the pocket on dropback passing situations.
“He can really run,” Bedford said of Nassib, whose longest run this year is 45 yards. “And then that quick release – it makes it hard to get hits on him.”
Third downs a weakness
Offensive coordinator Todd Fitch said he’s been trying to find that “comfortable” package for third-down conversions, an area USF has struggled with this season.
The Bulls have converted a Big East-worst 26.3 percent (10-of-38) of third downs in four games.
“I think we found a set that looks good to us with some things we did last week,” Fitch said. “We missed some throws, maybe a route technique here, but there were some people open. We want to continue to grow from that package because if they can see it on tape and learn, we can convert these third downs.
“All we have to do is move the chain. I think sometimes you think there’s got to be something special. It’s not real hard to figure out. If you got four (to go), get four. If you need seven, get seven. We just want to keep the drive alive. That’s something with the inexperience at (receiver), they have to learn more and we have to do a better job coaching.”
Junior safety Jerrell Young, who is nursing an ankle injury suffered in the first half of Saturday’s game against Florida Atlantic, didn’t practice Tuesday and is questionable for Saturday’s game … Sophomore receiver Sterling Griffin, who practiced Tuesday and is expected to play against Syracuse, talked with the media for the first time since suffering a fractured and dislocated ankle during summer workouts. “It just feels good to be back out here playing with my teammates because they supported me so much through my injury,” he said.