South Florida’s Big Play Offense to Test Rutgers
Added by Gregg Snyder on September 12, 2012.
USF QB B.J. Daniels has done a lot of damage through the air this season. Photo Credit: WILLIE J. ALLEN JR., Tampa Bay Times
The Rutgers Scarlet Knights have been known for years to play excellent defense and special teams. This season, the first under new head coach Kyle Flood, has been no different. After two games, Rutgers is ranked 6th in the country in total defense, giving up an average of 205.50 yards per game.
The Scarlet Knights will invade Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida to open their Big East schedule Thursday night against the South Florida Bulls. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30pm. Rutgers leads the series between the two schools 5-2 after beating the Bulls 20-17 in overtime at High Point Solutions Stadium last year.
South Florida enters the game with a high scoring offense capable of big plays. The Bulls are led by redshirt senior quarterback B.J. Daniels who comes into the game ranked 12th in passing yards and 18th in total offense. The dual threat QB has done most of his damage through the air this season. Daniels has thrown for 588 yards and six touchdowns while committing just one interception. His QB rating of 160.90 is good for 25th in the nation.
South Florida will be playing their second straight game without their top wide receiver, Sterling Griffin, who is out the rest of the year with a knee injury. The Bulls really have not missed a beat with Griffin out. Sophomore wide out Andre Davis has grown into a big play threat. Davis is 18th in the nation in receiving yards and averages 102 per game. He has two touchdowns on the year, both coming in South Florida’s thrilling 32-31 victory over Nevada last Saturday.
In the game, Davis set a school record with 12 catches for 191 yards. His touchdown plays of 51 and 56 yards show just how much trust the QB Daniels has in him. Davis is averaging over 15 yards per reception through two games.
The Rutgers highly touted defense must be aware of the big play ability of USF. So far this season, the Rutgers defense has been able to take away the running game of its opponents. The Scarlet Knights are ranked 4th in the nation in rushing defense but 24th against the pass. Take that with a grain of salt however because Rutgers opponents have had to play from behind, forcing them to go to the air after seeing their running game stuffed pretty much at the line of scrimmage.
Rutgers cornerbacks Brandon Jones and Logan Ryan are playing at a high level and appear ready for Thursday’s challenge, it’s toughest yet. Of course, defense against the passing game starts up front. The Scarlet Knights will need to continue to stuff the line of scrimmage, and get pressure on Daniels. Rutgers likes to bring an extra guy in the box to provide extra pressure. It will be important for the Knights to be able to do that without giving up big plays down the field.
As good as Rutgers corners are, the safeties will play a key role in stopping the South Florida attack. Whether it’s moving up and putting quick pressure on Daniels, or providing help down the field, expect to see guys like Duron Harmon and Lorenzo Waters play key roles.
The entire Rutgers defense will need to play a smart, physical game against a South Florida team averaging over 450 yards of offense per contest. The Bulls have converted 50% of their 3rd down attempts. Their scoring plays have generally been big plays. They have only started a drive in their opponents red zone four times this season. They have however, scored touchdowns in all four of those opportunities.
Rutgers linebacker and captain, Khaseem Greene, has quietly started the season where he left off last year, aside from his injury. Greene is once again a tackling machine. Rutgers will need him to continue his strong play, moving all over the field. To this point, the Rutgers defense has been as good, if not better, than advertised, but Thursday night’s showdown with a conference rival will easily be their toughest test yet.