USF senior cornerback Mistral Raymond is eager to see how the Bulls’ secondary stacks up against one of the best receiving corps in the Big East.
“They’re a confident group,” he said of the Bearcats’ successful unit, which includes two of the top receivers in the conference. “It should be interesting. When the ball goes up, their playmakers are going to make plays and our playmakers are going to make plays.”
Junior D.J. Woods, who is 6-feet and 176 pounds, and senior Armon Binns, who is 6-foot-3 and 204 pounds, rank No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in the Big East in receiving yards per game and have 13 touchdowns combined through six games this season. Cincinnati junior quarterback Zach Collaros leads the Big East in passing efficiency, passing yards per game and total offense.
On the other hand, USF is only allowing 165.7 passing yards per game, second in the conference only to West Virginia.
“I think we’ve kept the ball in front of us for the most part this year,” coach Skip Holtz said. “We’ve given up some underneath stuff, but I think our linebackers are improved tremendously with their drops and their zones.”
But Holtz said the Bulls will face a different look Friday than with previous opponents in that the Bearcats will take chances with the deep ball and give USF cornerbacks a lot of one-on-one coverage.
“This week, we’re going to be challenged more where we’re going to have to go up and make a play,” he said. “(Collaros) is going to let it go. And if it’s one-on-one and (the Cincinnati receiver) is not open, (Collaros) is going to throw it up and say, ‘Go make a play.’ And they have. I think our secondary this week is going to be challenged more than they have been.”
Limiting mistakes outside pocket
In breaking down film, USF offensive coordinator Todd Fitch said he noticed many of quarterback B.J. Daniels’ interceptions have occurred while Daniels eludes pressure outside the pocket.
In two well-documented instances, Daniels threw interceptions that both led to touchdowns late in the first half with the Bulls still in the game against Florida and West Virginia.
“He has to be a better decision maker when he’s out of the pocket and not making that forced play or not seeing coverage there,” Fitch said. “If he does that, that’s a great improvement there.”
Murray expected to play
Sophomore running back Demetris Murray, who missed last week’s game against West Virginia with an ankle injury, is expected to play against Cincinnati on Friday, Holtz said Tuesday.
“He was cleared to play (the last two games), but he was not going to be very effective,” Holtz said. “We just made the decision rather than trying to have a lingering injury that just keeps on going for us, let’s hold him. He practiced Sunday, and I thought he looked really good.”
Murray has rushed for 262 yards this season on 42 carries for an average of 6.2 yards per carry.
Senior receiver Dontavia Bogan said his ankle is “90 percent” after injuring it against Florida on Sept. 11 … The Bulls have lost four straight games to the Bearcats.