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Film Study: USF's Struggling Offense (Part 1)

B.J. Daniels might be out in front of USF's struggling offense, but he's not the only one struggling.
B.J. Daniels might be out in front of USF's struggling offense, but he's not the only one struggling.

I hadn't really had time to watch USF's last two games closely, but with the way they turned out it was kind of helpful. It gave me a chance to watch them both consecutively and try to figure out what is going on with the Bulls' sputtering offense.

If you want one really scary stat to sum up just how bad things have been, try this one: There have been more interceptions thrown in the last two games (5) than there have been scoring drives (3). Rather than make the simplistic analysis and just lay all the blame at B.J. Daniels' feet, though, I wanted to see if there was some more to it.

I'm going to break this into two parts, one for each game. Tomorrow we'll get to the West Virginia game, which had its own set of problems. But first we'll examine the game against Syracuse.

You've all seen this first play already, but here it is again. I kept notes while I was watching these two games so I'll share those after each clip. This is the interception that ended the first drive of the game.

The first INT. Syracuse rushed six, and either it was cover 0 or the laziest cover 1 I've ever seen because the strong safety didn't even move until after the ball went up. Two defenders went towards Lamar on the pump fake and Landi had no one between him and the goal line. He beat his man by 10 yards, but Daniels jacked it up there for Bogan instead. Completely inexcusable because Landi is in Daniels' field of vision. It's not like he was on the opposite side of the field. And I think he saw the second defender break towards Lamar when he pump faked. He has to know that there is no one left to cover Landi.

That one was clearly on Daniels, but he's hardly been the only problem. The Orange played a lot of tight man coverage and they took his receivers out of the game for the most part. It seems doubtful that they would have this many problems if Sterling Griffin or A.J. Love (or Carlton Mitchell, for that matter) were in the lineup. Here's a perfect example from the second quarter.

I would have liked to see downfield on this play because Syracuse rushed seven and yet Daniels had no one to throw to. Either he missed someone or they couldn't get open against single coverage, which is a huge problem.

Then a couple plays later:

Kind of a microcosm of everything that happened independent of Daniels. Syracuse blitzed again, for some reason Kevin Gidrey was left to pick up a defensive end, Mark Popek completely missed a block, and the blitzing corner made an amazing tackle to get the sack. Overall the Orange tackled extremely well, blitzed a lot, and the offensive line was terrible in pass protection, especially the tackles.

I thought the passing game against Syracuse was a system-wide failure. Daniels made bad decisions with the ball, he didn't get much blocking, and his receivers couldn't get open for him when they needed to beat man coverage.

More after the jump.

Here's the second missed wide-open sure touchdown that Daniels had in that game.

The second missed wide-open touchdown. Syracuse blitzed the corner responsible for Bogan while still playing cover 1. How the strong safety was late and got sucked in by a play-action fake when he knows he's dead if they throw it is beyond me. Bogan is 10 yards behind his man and Daniels never even looked in his direction.

Then a couple plays later, Daniels' second interception. Just a lot of bad things going on here.

Another bad throw by Daniels, but again, if you have five wide receivers and none of them can get open against press coverage, you have bigger problems than just your quarterback. He might have been able to hit Faron Hornes on a curl right at the first-down marker, but he wasn't looking in that direction at the start of the play. Mo Plancher and Bravo-Brown were both bumped off their routes.

The analyst mentioned that last year Daniels might have tucked it and run for a first down. I don't know if he actually would have made it, but that did look like a case where the "run the offense" shock collar kept him from making a more instinctive play.

Finally, one more clip that illustrates the trouble USF's offensive line had with picking up the Syracuse pass rush. They did this all afternoon.

USF just got abused by overload blitzes. They often didn't have enough blockers to pick them up and when they did, there was confusion on who was supposed to pick up who. And then sometimes they just whiffed on blocks.

Again, it's easy to pile on B.J. Daniels because he's the one out in front of this mess. But he didn't have very much help against the Orange. In Part 2, we'll see if the same things cropped up against West Virginia.