For the first time in a few weeks, quarterback B.J. Daniels won’t have to answer too many questions about leading a struggling offense – at least for now.
After a somewhat unexpected turn of events – the Bulls offense clicking on all cylinders during a 38-30 road win against Cincinnati (3-4) Friday night – the Bulls (4-3) head into this week with confidence and a new sense of direction, especially for an offense that hadn’t produced a touchdown in its two previous Big East games, which both ended in losses.
“To see where (Daniels) was the last couple of weeks and then what he turned into (Friday) was refreshing,” coach Skip Holtz said. “Saturday saw a lot of what we saw in practice. We’ve talked about how he’s done so many great things at practice. He went out there and really executed.”
“It was nice to see us being able to move the ball,” Holtz said. “It was really encouraging to see a break out game against a quality opponent.”
Daniels had one of the most efficient games of his career, throwing for 286 yards and two touchdowns on 13-of-16 passing. He also added a team-high 35 rushing yards (on nine carries) and two touchdowns.
“My whole thing is, I don’t play well unless I have fun,” Daniels said. “As a team, we were having a good time. It’s college football, you have to enjoy it.”
Many of USF’s problems during its two-game Big East losing streak were corrected. The Bulls committed zero turnovers and forced one (a Mistral Raymond interception of Cincinnati quarterback Zach Collaros) after a minus-four ratio against Syracuse and West Virginia.
The Bulls had four plays of 30 or more yards after producing just nine through the first six games and converted 7-of-12 first downs after coming into the game as the nation’s fourth-worst FBS with a 26 percent third-down conversion rate.
“When you step back and evaluate the tape, you’re happy for the players,” offensive coordinator Todd Fitch said. “We’ve said all along, they’ve been working so hard and they’ve been close, and it’s tough for people outside to see that. But it was good for us to see them do the little things and have success. Hopefully, that’ll carry them on the second half of the season.”
After avoiding an 0-3 conference start, the Bulls have more than the usual one week to prepare for their next game, which is a home date against Rutgers on Wednesday Nov. 3.
And sitting on a win is something the Bulls haven’t done recently.
“It’s always nice to get a Big East win. You can see the excitement in the kids’ faces,” defensive coordinator Mark Snyder said. “It was a good team win, especially on the road, against a very good Cincinnati team.”