USF’s defense ranks among nation’s best

Through the first four games of the season, USF’s defense has been one of the best in the country.

The Bulls rank No. 2 nationally in scoring and red zone defense, No. 1 in third down defense, No. 5 in pass defense, and No. 11 in total defense.

USF held FSU, a team that put up 54 points on then-No. 7 BYU a week earlier, to a lone fourth-quarter touchdown during a 17-7 victory Saturday.

“We’ve gotten a little more physical every week, and that’s a big goal of ours,” said USF defensive coordinator Joe Tresey. “The other thing is fundamentals. We’ve been getting a little bit better every week doing the little things.”

The 27 points USF has given up during the first four games is the lowest of any four-game stretch in program history. On Saturday, the defense had five sacks, five forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries.

Bulls honored

USF defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, a junior college transfer who made his second start against FSU, was named Defensive Player of the Week, the Big East announced Monday. Pierre-Paul had a sack, a forced fumble, and three tackles for loss.

“How about that? Outstanding. He had a great game,” Tresey said. “He played very fast and very physical, and hopefully he gets better every week.”

B.J. Daniels was also named to the conference honor roll after totaling 341 yards in his first start at quarterback.

USF can’t crack polls despite big win

In college football’s two major polls, the Associated Press and the USA Today Coaches’ Poll, USF didn’t crack the top 25 despite the win over FSU.

USF received 145 votes from the AP and 117 from the coaches, as FSU fell out of each poll. A win against Syracuse on Saturday could possibly set up a top-25 showdown between USF and Cincinnati on Oct. 15.

Cincinnati is the highest ranked team in the Big East, coming in at No. 10 in the AP and No. 11 in the coaches’ poll.

Unranked teams receiving more votes than USF in the AP Poll are Missouri, South Carolina and Auburn. The only unranked team receiving more votes than USF in the coaches’ poll is Georgia Tech, which has a loss this year but beat then-No. 22 North Carolina 24-7 on Saturday.