September 27, 2012

Tape Breakdown: USF offense, BJ Daniels

This week, Florida State will likely be battling itself for 60 minutes more than the opponent in Tampa. USF has some capable players, however the Bulls' attention to details on both sides of the ball make them vulnerable to getting put down quickly. If there is one side that is more intriguing than the other for South Florida, it is the offense. Let's take a look at some of what makes the Bull offense unique.

USF Offense

Zone read/QB Choice

It's called several things in conversation - the zone read, quarterback choice, read option - and USF uses this play to feature its biggest offensive weapon in B.J. Daniels. USF is the third straight Seminole opponent to run predominately out of shotgun or pistol. To be more specific, the Bulls like to feature the two-back set in the shotgun that FSU implements for its trademark stretch play.

Although he has a very strong arm, Daniels' biggest weapons are his legs. They provide him the opportunity to both extend broken plays or succeed on designed plays. Rather than viewing the "choice" from typical shotgun sets, let's take a look at a pistol formation that presents a quick straight-ahead or quarterback perimeter run.

Notice how there's a lead blocker (tight end Evan Landi) for the quarterback moving from the trips set to the right across the field to the strong side. Daniels' eyes read the strong side defensive end/edge rusher and determine whether the numbers advantage is to the perimeter or if letting the ball go is the prudent play.

The Bulls will use this look to generate play action pass after a few snaps. However with the time it takes for a play like this to develop (and the FSU speed on the edges), one has to wonder how often a pass will be called out of the pistol.

On B.J. Daniels

The USF quarterback can improvise and make some nice plays here and there, however he is just as likely to make a poor decision with the football. Daniels' six interceptions already are at a high number, but in watching his accuracy in shorter throws, that total seems surprisingly tame.

Playing against competition like Rutgers, throwing the ball to the wrong shoulder or a half-stride behind a Bull receiver may be acceptable. But if USF is to have a chance at the mega-upset this Saturday, those frequently errant throws simply cannot happen. The Seminole secondary is by far the fastest Daniels will have seen this year, and the blend of speed and thump can turn off throws into violent hits or turnovers.

Overall impressions

The South Florida offense is underwhelming except in moments of broken plays.

Schemes that are based on quarterback mobility typically include perimeter speed as well as speed at the tailback position. Maybe it is because the Tallahassee eye has been trained on blazers like Sammy Waktins and Andre Ellington ahead of the Clemson game, but USF nonetheless does not present a speed threat near the level of the Tigers.

Sophomore receiver Andre Davis is a physical target that can generate open looks with good body position. Former FSU commit Terrence Mitchell also provides some quickness at the receiver position. But the offense simply is not schemed to feature the perimeter targets.

As long as the Seminole defense remains remotely disciplined in the secondary, this game figures to be a chance for turnovers for and low yardages against Mark Stoops' group.

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