If facing the fourth-ranked team in the nation wasnt enough pressure on senior quarterback B.J. Daniels, perhaps being asked to account for 76 percent of the offense will do the trick.
Through four games in the 2012 season, the USF football offense has accounted for 1,756 total yards, 1,341 of which have come from the arm and legs of Daniels. He has also scored 10 of the teams 14 touchdowns.
With a Florida State defense that ranks in the top 10 in the nation in five different categories, including second in total defense and sixth in scoring defense, offensive coordinator Todd Fitch said the offense needs to take pressure off its senior leader.
The inconsistency in the rushing game is part of the reason B.J. is doing so much, he said. We rush for 200 yards a couple of weeks, and the other two weeks we dont establish a running attack at all. At some point you have to give him a breather back there, and coach (Skip Holtz) did a good job talking to the offensive line and running backs, saying Hey, lets get some pressure off this guy, because Florida State will be coming after him.
Senior running back Demetris Murray, who has 207 rushing yards this season eight more than Daniels said the pressure on Daniels comes with the position he plays.
Win or lose, every game it always seems like the quarterbacks fault, Murray said. Thats the tough thing about being a quarterback. But hes been doing a really good job, and we need to continue to try to establish the running game so we can take pressure off of him.
Junior receiver Terrence Mitchell, who said he briefly considered committing to Florida State before attending USF, said though the offense revolves around Daniels, he has handled it well.
I think people make it seem like its too much for B.J., he said. But hes handled every situation that has come to him, in my eyes. We have had trouble with offensive line play and defense, but B.J. has been great.
Holtz said the offensive line will need to improve to prevent Daniels from being targeted by the Seminole defense.
I dont think its a reliance thing, he said. (Running back Lindsey) Lamar has played better for us and carried the load in the running game, but I think our offensive line has got to play better. Nobody is just sitting around and saying B.J. has to get it done. Weve got to be more consistent on the offensive line.
Though Daniels has been forced into a larger role in the Bulls offense, Holtz said the seniors athleticism has contributed to strong offensive games against both Nevada and Ball State.
Right now, B.J. is playing well, he said. But he has to. Because hes playing Houdini back there trying to get away from the rush, hes not getting a chance to set up in the pocket. Hes made a lot of plays, Im really grateful for his feet and his playmaking ability. Hes kept a lot of plays alive.
Daniels, who accounted for 341 of the teams 368 total yards in USFs 17-7 win over Florida State in 2009, said he doesnt feel pressure to perform as he prepares to face the challenge of the strong front seven of the Seminoles.
I still have 10 other guys doing their job on the offensive side of the ball, he said. When things break down, I try to do the best I can to get away. Theres receivers getting open and catching the ball. Theres no specific weight on my shoulders.