Skip Holtz had us believing he was taking his offense back to the stone age and dragging a reluctant quarterback B.J. Daniels along with him.
Going up against a Florida Atlantic team that couldn’t stop the run if it had the Great Wall of China behind it, Holtz sounded like he would bring out his infantry, roll the tanks and demonstrate what a modern day blitzkrieg looks like between the hash marks.
Instead the USF head coach opened up his play book, had Daniels operating in an empty backfield and then showed a little trickery with running back Mo Plancher getting the ball and tossing it back to the quarterback, who unleashed a 38 yard touchdown pass to Dontavian Bogan.
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Daniels put up the kind of numbers Holtz wants to see. Not flashy, but efficient and almost flawless.
The sophomore connected on 14 of 19 passes for 155 yards and one touchdown and was not picked off. He had eight carries for a net 27 yards and was sacked twice, but the Bulls won 31-3 at Raymond James Stadium.
Those are not the kind of numbers that will enable him to live up to the pre-season talk that had people saying he was the best QB in the Big East. But he is not complaining.
“It’s always fun when you win,” Daniels said. “It’s good to have Dontavia back. Our offense was more balanced and their defense couldn’t concentrate on one thing, which definitely helped us. It gives us confidence going into the Big East.
“Things are coming to me easier and the game is slowing down for me. Our focus tonight wasn’t on them (FAU). It was on us being able to do more things and not be one dimensional.”
The Bulls defense and special teams fueled the bravery that allowed Holtz and his staff to open things up a little and throw caution to the wind.
The Bulls surpassed their season sack total of three in the first half when they dumped the quarterback four times behind the line of scrimmage and finished with seven sacks.
In the first quarter, a blocked punt by Quenton Washington was picked up by Armand Sanchez who rambled 11 yards for a touchdown. Jerrell Young’s interception led to the Bulls initial touchdown on their first possession of the game.
USF even broke out of the cellar it shared with lowly New Mexico State as the country’s only two teams without a fumble recovery when JaQuez Jenkins got one in the third quarter.
It was one of those nights where one team looked like world beaters and the other just beaten.
Things are supposed to change Saturday when the Bulls begin conference play, but with perennial doormat Syracuse providing the opposition, USF might still be a game away of finding out of they are a contender for a BCS Bowl or headed to the local baseball stadium for a bowl game they all want to avoid.
The Bulls remain a mystery, which is the way all coaches like their team to be viewed.
Offensive coordinator Todd Fitch smiles when people ask him about his game plan. It’s been different every week and he says it’s by design.
“We knew we could always run the ball, but we have to improve our passing game for us to have a chance to do the things we want to do,” Fitch said. “We had intentions going into the game to give BJ more work. We were trying to get him to throw around thirty times. People are loading the box on us and we had to do something to take advantage of that so we tried that flea-flicker.
Holtz is happy that his most important student is beginning to understand the lesson plan.
“BJ played his best game so far this season,” Holtz said. “He played within the offense and showed that he understood what was going on and communicated to us what he was seeing on the field. I was really impressed how he has gotten better each and every week, not physically or throwing the ball, but where he is mentally. “