I partcipated in a Q&A with Ken over at the excellent SB Nation South Florida blog, Voodoo Five before the big game this weekend. Check out his answers to my questions afer the jump:
1. USF started out the conference season 0-2 with losses against WVU and Syracuse. Now that more games have been played in the Big East, Syracuse and WVU are looking like decent teams. Plus, the Bulls have won three conference games in a row now. But what was the attitude of USF fans after that slow start?
I think most of the fan base understood that this was a rebuilding year. Anytime you switch head coaches, its going to take a year or two before the staff gets the people they want on the roster. We thought USF at best would be a 7-5 team, and anything more would be a bonus. We were a little worried about the offense after the WVU and Syracuse games, but Coach Holtz has repeatedly told us that B.J. Daniels was a true freshman in the new scheme, and it would take some time before he was comfortable in the system.
The defense has been a treat to watch, and guys like David Bedford, Craig Marshall(who will be out due to a foot injury), DeDe Lattimore, and Mistral Raymond have stepped up after we lost five players to the NFL. Raymond is a great story. Originally a walk-on, Raymond's first nickname was Sweetbay because if he was in the game, our DB coach would grab a bag of chips and relax because the game was over. Mistral improved a lot last season, and played a lot and even started a couple of games at safety last season. Raymond moved to corner this season, and has become a lockdown defender. Raymond is a great story, and is another diamond in the rough that fell in USF's lap.
2. Speaking of those five conference games, the USF offense has looked like night and day. In the two losses, the team only scored a combined 15 points but in the three wins, they've averaged 30 points per game. Is that more of a product of lesser competition or is the Bulls offense really figuring things out?
Its a testament to OC Todd Fitch, who pretty much switched up the offense on the fly after the West Virginia game. The staff has adjusted the game plan to each opponent, and the team is running a more optioned based attack with B.J. Daniels and RBs Moise Plancher and Demetris Murray. With the last staff, we just threw the exact same thing at everyone, and if you beat us, you beat us. It was great when we were going up against non-conference teams, but guys like Brian Kelly and Greg Schiano ate us up because they knew what we were going to do on offense.
3. We all know about B.J. Daniels' athleticism. He's only a sophomore and it's pretty early to be talking about this sort of stuff, but if he does make it to the NFL, where would you project him? Based on what you've seen of him so far, do you think he'll get a look at QB or will he have to settle at another position?
Daniels is generously listed at 6'1, and he might be closer to 5'11. If he does make it to the next level, I think it will be at either WR or Safety. He is a great talent, but I don't know if he would make it in the NFL as a QB.
4. The Big East is really almost anyone's to win. Who do you see winning the conference?
Can I say USF? I really don't know. There are so many ways this could end, and USF is involved in every scenario. If it goes to the BCS between USF, Pitt, and Syracuse I would feel good about our chances.
5. What's your prediction for Saturday's game?
The team is finding ways to win, from Lindsey Lamar's 100 yd KO return and 4th and inches stop last week, to a FAT GUY TOUCHDOWN! and defensive safety against Rutgers. I think the Bulls win a close one 24-21, and special teams will be the difference.
Also, be sure to check out my answers to his questions.