After leading the Bulls with 772 yards rushing in 2009 (the fourth straight year a quarterback had done that for USF), B.J. Daniels ran for only 259 last season as he clearly struggled to adjust to a more traditional offense under Skip Holtz and offensive coordinator Todd Fitch. But the lack of depth at the position also forced the Bulls’ hand. Now, with three scholarship QBs behind Daniels, Holtz may be ready to loosen the reins.
“I definitely would feel more comfortable this year than I did last year… B.J., athletically, I know can go out there and be more of a running quarterback. I’m not looking to make B.J. Daniels our leading ballcarrier just because we have a backup, but I certainly feel a little bit more comfortable with him running the ball this year.”
Daniels had a rough 2010 season as a passer because he was hamstrung in several ways. He’s a dynamic runner (see his performances against Florida State and UConn in 2009) who didn’t get the green light to make plays with his feet because there was no depth behind him at quarterback. But that meant he had to try and make things happen by throwing the ball to a very thin group of receivers, and it led to mistakes, turnovers, and inefficient play. Daniels was the only game breaker the USF offense had, except he wasn’t allowed to do any game breaking. And even with the coaches trying to protect him from injury, he still hurt his foot during the season. Then he aggravated it badly enough against Miami that he had to give way to Bobby Eveld for the rest of the regular season.
Still, it’s not just the quarterback depth that should free up Daniels to play more instinctively this year. Two highly-touted transfer running backs (Dontae Aycock and Darrell Scott) plus two receivers coming back from injuries that wiped out their 2010 seasons (A.J. Love and Sterling Griffin) are expected to relieve a lot of the pressure that was on Daniels to carry last year’s offense. Having those extra weapons may make USF comfortable enough to unleash what might be their most potent one.