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Syracuse Orange Football Semi-Too Early Preview: South Florida Bulls

B.J. Daniels is the target. Release the Goggins...or someone...please? (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
B.J. Daniels is the target. Release the Goggins...or someone...please? (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
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The Orange are now 4-3 and hope will be rising with five games left...that's why we're pumping these out at double time speed! Next up is a trip to sunny South Florida to take on B.J. Daniels and the Bulls.

South Florida Overview:

The South Florida Bulls enter this year as they do many seasons: the trendy pick by some who put lots of stock into a few skilled players. This year it's B.J. Daniels anchoring these hopes. The dual threat senior quarterback can fling the ball and run when necessary, something Syracuse witnessed first hand last year at homecoming Orange Central. The Bulls do lose their starting running back from last season in Darrell Scott, but replace him with Demetris Murray, who had 503 yards in 5 starts last season. Wide receiver and the interior line also see some turnaround, but neither really drop off in talent levels. On defense, new coordinator Chris Cosh returns his entire linebacking group as well as the most important members of the front line. The Bulls return half of their secondary, but much like the receiving core, the talent level doesn't drop off.

How the Orange should attack the Bulls:

The Bulls were one of the best pass pressuring teams in all of the country last season and that shouldn't change this year. Their entire linebacking core returns, which means the top three tacklers also return to USF. The front line was a huge part of the Bulls' success and while they did lose tackle Keith McCaskill, they return five of their eight lineman. Cory Grissom wil have a huge impact once his ankle heals and Ryne Giddins will cause every opposing tackle issues. The secondary is one area of question. Kayvon Webster is the senior leader at corner but JUCO transfers Fidel Montgomery and Josh Brown will be numbers two and three. Safety Jon Lejiste is a playmaker to gameplan for, finishing off a very strong defense.

Since the secondary is the weakest link, and the game will be in (predictably) beautiful South Florida, passing the ball is the way to go. With the lack of depth in the secondary, spreading out the USF defense will be step one. The issue with spreading out USF is that if they decide to aggressively rush Nassib, there will be less resistance for their outstanding front seven. The best way to attack will be a quick passing game based on timing routes. Nassib and his crew will all need to be on the same page or else things could go sour quickly. The secondary is undersized, so a big tight end like Beckett Wales or receiver like Adrian Flemming may be able to make more space for these kinds of plays.

How the Orange defend the Bulls:

As mentioned above, the Bulls' offense will be run through B.J. Daniels. A true dual threat, it will nearly impossible for the Orange to do anything but limit his damage unless he's injured. That means the Orange will need to shut down the weapons around him. The running game won't change that much from last year even though the Bulls don't have as much depth. Expect Daniels essentially be the number two running back. The passing game will be as effective as wide outs Sterling Griffin and Victor Marc make it. Neither had healthy or consistent 2011 campaigns and they lead a group of young speedsters.

The biggest worry around USF is their front five. They are replacing two all Big East players in the interior, including their center, who is being replaced by sophomore Austin Reiter. The Orange are going to need to clog running lanes to force Daniels to air out the ball in order to make the wideouts win the game for USF. Also, placing a spy on Daniels while ensuring the corners are tackling well will limit Daniels' effectiveness outside of the pocket.

X Factor:

Deon Goggins. Wherever he lines up, he'll be the best bet for SU to force pressure on Daniels while clogging up running lanes. His versatility along the line may be what makes him the most important guy in this game.


This USF is high on some experts lists but I think in reality they are a slight upgrade over last year's team. Without explosive playmakers for Daniels to throw to, this is a beatable USF team if the offense can come out swinging. I think USF has more talent than SU and should win this game, but the Orange can pull the upset if they can successfully build off their win in Connecticut. I say USF 21-17 but it's a toss up for me.