Skip Holtz has made one thing clear since the first day of spring football practice: Less of B.J. Daniels means more of B.J. Daniels.
In laymen’s terms, the South Florida football coach doesn’t want to see his quarterback lead the team in rushing.
It’s been that way the past four years under the Jim Leavitt regime; first with Matt Grothe under center and then Daniels.
The old staff used the heck or high water approach with the quarterback, giving the impression whoever was in there was indestructible. That philosophy proved fatal last season when Grothe went down with a torn ACL and Daniels inherited the job as a redshirt freshman.
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Holtz has a different mindset and doesn’t want to risk chipping the most valuable commodity on his football team. His belief: Use him less and see him more.
“I don’t want that to happen (QB is leading rusher),” he says. “It may turn out that way as the year goes on, but I really don’t want it. B.J. is a very talented young man and obviously very good with his feet, and I don’t want to smother his playmaking ability. But I don’t want to turn to a situation where we are just asking him to run.
“He is going to have to run with it some, and he can make things happen when he does, but I would like to see Mo Plancher and Demetris Murray and some of those other guys step in.”
When Daniels is throwing the ball next season, one of his favorite targets is expected to be A.J. Love, the senior from Southeast High. He has drawn nothing but raves from the new coaching staff.
The 6-2, 205-pounder endured a lot since last season with the Leavitt firing and uncertainty surrounding the program. Now, he is a guy Holtz wants to see with the ball in his hands.
“Just sticking together as a team was a big thing that helped me,” Love says. “Since the new staff came in, everything has gone smooth. The biggest difference is that they are facilitating our learning better. “Everything is more organized down to the smallest detail. We are going to do more pro style offense, get under center and throw downfield. I’m excited.”
Holtz and offensive coordinator Todd Fitch would also prefer to have a feature back rather than rush the ball by committee as Leavitt did. But that depends on what they see in their personnel.
Mike Ford, the record setting running back out of Sarasota High, figured to be the top candidate for the “feature” role. However, he is gone, dismissed from the team for a myriad of reasons.
“We would like to have one go-to guy and use other people to refresh him,” Fitch says. “But we don’t know who that person is going to be or if we can do it that way. B.J. has a big arm, and we are going to try and get the ball downfield with our play-action game because he throws the ball extremely well.
“He will get his carries within the passing game, but we are not going to use the pure QB run because we’ve got to keep him healthy. He will create enough runs on his own.”
USF fans can also expect a little less of Daniels this spring. He is off limits because of shoulder surgery on his left non-throwing arm. He will be participating in drills and scrimmages, but no one will be allowed to hit him.
“B.J. can’t take a hit, but he can do everything else,” Holtz says. “These are invaluable reps he is getting.
You can sit down and draw it on the board, but until you get up under center and call cadence and go through the reads it doesn’t mean as much. He won’t be live all spring.”