The Syracuse Orange take on the South Florida Bulls this Friday night and, let's face it, you are woefully unprepared for it. That's why I've enlisted the help of Jamie DeVriend, one of the Bulls fans that do that voodoo so well over at Voodoo Five.
My questions and his answers are below. I did the same over at their site. If you're looking for menu ideas for your next trip to Beef O'Brady's, I think we cover it pretty well between the two of us.
South Florida starts the season 4-0. Dreams of Big East titles and BCS Bowls dance in your head. Fast-forward and USF is 4-4, 0-4 in the Big East and the Bulls seem to have self-destructed. Wa'happun?
I'm not even sure the coaches know after listening to Skip Holtz the last few days. He went to the dreaded "we're three plays away from being 7-1" line, which is probably my least favorite piece of coachspeak. The closest explanation I can come up with is that they've lost discipline. That applies both in the way they're playing (like when Ray Graham destroyed them to start the losing streak) and in taking dumb penalties. They had five personal fouls against Cincinnati, and then Mike Jeune committed one of the most brain-dead late hits ever against Rutgers that cost USF a crucial 15 yards when they were trying to protect their 17-10 lead. It may have led to Rutgers getting their chance to tie the game because USF had to punt on 4th and short instead of being in a spot where they could have gone for it without much downside.
Senior center and renaissance man Chaz Hine called a players-only meeting this week, which you rarely hear about on college teams, and the players are saying the right things about what happened. This game sounds like the litmus test for the rest of the season. Either they circle the wagons and come out firing on Friday, or the whole season goes to hell in a handbasket.
B.J. Daniels...friend or foe? Seems like it's something new each week.
I still think B.J. is better than he was last year, although sometimes the stats don't bear this out. On the one hand, he's broken his own school record for passing yards in a game three times this year (currently at 403, which he set against Cincinnati). But then the Bulls go on the road and the coaches refuse to turn him loose. More on that later... but we may see him start to shrivel up into a runner who throws the ball occasionally because without Sterling Griffin, he doesn't have a receiver who can constantly get open. The most talented receivers are probably Deonte Welch and Andre Davis, but they're both freshmen and don't have enough experience in the offense to know where to go in zone coverages or when the play breaks down.
USF lost to Syracuse for the first time ever last season (which sounds so weird). What are the Bulls going to do to make sure it doesn't happen again? Who is going to make it happen?
Last year the whole offense was terrible. Daniels missed two wide-open touchdown passes, but the offensive line was the real reason USF lost. They couldn't run the ball effectively, and they got clowned by Syracuse's blitzes. If USF is going to win the game, it's going to be on the offensive line to make it happen. They can't get what, 220 yards of total offense like they did last year and think they have a chance to win this game.
Still buying what Skip Holtz is selling?
I'm wavering a little bit, but we have to keep buying it because it's not like Holtz is going to get fired after two years. I do find myself getting more and more concerned every week with the play-not-to-lose mentality that's developed on both sides of the ball. That's not how college football works these days, especially on offense. I hate watching Daniels get shackled by the goal line, and I hate the coaches being so careful on the road. As someone once said, YOU PLAY TO WIN THE GAME. If the Bulls are going down, I'd like to go down swinging.
How are you guys taking this whole conference realignment thing? I always thought that a you'd be a nice target for a forward-thinking Big 12 but...doesn't look like it. Is it all doom and gloom over there? Excited about traveling to Boise?
Actually, if we're in a league with Boise, I don't care how many connecting flights I have to make (probably Dallas > San Francisco > Boise), I want to get out there once. After the novelty wears off... no. It will be horrible. I'm really disgusted with Doug Woolard (our athletic director), who's been here the entire time that USF has been in the Big East and hasn't done anything to validate their move up. Football is going in the tank, men's basketball gets crushed nearly every year, baseball can't even contend in a terrible baseball league... all of those are Woolard's hires. We have nothing that we're good at that people really care about.
And the lack of overt leadership really makes me mad. Look at what Louisville did when it came out that West Virginia was getting the 10th spot in the Big XII. Tom Jurich made a big commotion and even called in the Senate Minority Leader. It didn't work, but at least he did something and made it known that if the Big XII ever wants to get back to 12, they expect to be the first school to get a phone call. Doug Woolard hasn't said one damn thing on the record about conference realignment since September. He can't actually be HAPPY to stay in the Big East, can he?
USF basketball has been given 200-to-1 odds to win the National Title this season. Admit it, you're thinking about making a trip to Vegas...
Do they think Dominique Jones is still on the team? This is a 12-win team at best, and it only got that high because so many teams at the bottom of the league are losing players to eligibility, injuries, etc. Things might be turning around slowly now that there's a new practice facility, but Stan Heath might not be given enough time to see it through, either by Woolard or by someone else if it comes to that. I think climbing out of this hole is going to be a 2-3 coach process. Coaches will take a step or two up, and then look to cash it in for a better job. You have to make the right hire several times in a row to turn the program into an annual NCAA contender.
The winner of this game might just be locked in to the Beef O'Brady Bowl. If you guys qualify, what Beef O'Brady entree would you have to celebrate?
I wouldn't celebrate at all because going to a bowl against an also-ran C-USA team with hardly any extra practice time is pathetic and worthless. Imagine a 6-6 USF team against a 6-6 UCF team. The enthusiasm gap would be massive, because I just would not care at all, and of course UCF's entire goal in life is beating USF, which is so sad I can't even begin to explain what it says about them.
There's a Beef's down the street from my parents' house, so I've been more times than I care to admit. I almost never order anything other than wings (Ed. Note: I believe you mean the Award-Winning Wings), which aren't bad at all if they're fresh. So I guess some of those. They put too much sauce on them, though.