Checking USF football stats, Tuffy Rhodes style
We're only two games into USF's football season, so any extended rumination on where the Bulls rank statistically will suffer from what I like to call Tuffy Rhodes Syndrome, the annual sickness that causes broadcasters to excitedly note that a baseball player is on pace for a ridiculous amount of home runs ... after the first day of the season.
Rhodes, you see, had three home runs on opening day in 1994, which put him on course for an impressive 486 home runs, a strong number even in the juiced-ball era. (George Bell did the same thing in 1988, but I'm dating myself a little if I confess knowledge of that).
Anyway, two weeks into the season, any close inspection of the NCAA stat leaders is really for amusement more than any real insight into a team's strengths or weaknesses. Having warned that, here's a few things to be gleaned from the Bulls' first two games ...
-- B.J. Daniels ranks 41st in the nation and third in the Big East with 239 yards of total offense per game -- only West Virginia's Geno Smith and Syracuse's Ryan Nassib (!) are higher. In truth, there are very few Bulls ranking among the national leaders in any category -- Lindsey Lamar is 19th nationally in kickoff returns at 29.0 yards per return, all the more amusing because he was USF's third option lining up deep.
-- USF can boast the top total offense in the Big East, if only by a margin of 18 inches per game. There's a half-yard separating the Bulls (at 446.5 ypg) and West Virginia (446.0). But given that USF has Western Kentucky and the Mountaineers are at LSU this weekend, it's safe to say the Bulls might be able to extend that lead after this week.
-- The Bulls have the worst rushing defense in the league right now, giving up 199 yards per game -- as much as WKU likes to run Bobby Rainey, USF should be able to lower that number with a reasonable showing on Saturday. USF is giving up a league high 26 points per game entering the weekend, but one good week -- say, allowing seven points or less to WKU -- could move them up to third or higher. The Bulls have the league's best passing defense, allowing just 142 yards per game, and they lead in pass efficiency defense as well.
-- Oddly, the Bulls have yet to recover a fumble this season, one of just 10 schools not do so in 2010. Again, if it's still the case next week, it'll be more of a talking point, since the Bulls did have four interceptions in the opener. That's still enough to lead the Big East, and is more than Cincinnati, West Virginia, Louisville and Syracuse have combined for in their seasons so far.
-- Tackles for loss? The Bulls have just three in two games, and only four schools out of 120 have fewer than the Bulls. Strangely, those four are clustered geographically -- UNLV, New Mexico, New Mexico State and UTEP. Then again, the team tied with USF for 115th nationally is ... No. 1 Alabama, so again, not too big a cause for alarm. On the other extreme, USF has allowed just one sack in two games -- the only team in the country not to be sacked so far is Penn State, so one blink by the Nittany Lions and another solid week from the Bulls offensive line and they can be tied for the national lead in that category.