Don't call it the Wildcat: Meet the Toro Loco
A new wrinkle in USF's offense, with backup B.J. Daniels at quarterback and Matt Grothe lined up as a receiver, made its debut in the Bulls' 35-13 win at Western Kentucky. And while it looks like the "Wildcat" formation popularized by the Miami Dolphins last year, offensive coordinator Mike Canales has a fitting name for his version: Toro Loco, which of course translates to ... Wild Bull.
"I was very pleased with the way it worked," Canales said after Saturday's win. "It's something we've been working on. We needed to show it. We need people to work on it."
Canales' version adds even more possibilities, in that the Bulls had all three of their quarterbacks on the field when they first showed the formation, with redshirt freshman Evan Landi, who also plays receiver, lined up there as well.
"When you have three quarterbacks, there are so many things you can do out of it," Canales said. "We're just working on it, progressing. It's nice, because there are options."
USF got a 7-yard run from Daniels the first time it lined up in Toro Loco on Saturday, then gained 8 yards on an end around to freshman Lindsey Lamar. USF scored its third touchdown out of the formation, with Daniels running for a 7-yard score, and the fourth time was negated by a chop-block penalty.
RUN DEFENSE: USF's defense struggled to contain WKU quarterback Brandon Smith, who rushed for 105 yards, and defensive coordinator Joe Tresey said he was surprised by the offensive tweak. Smith rushed for minus-2 yards against Tennessee a week earlier, when WKU had 83 yards of total offense; the Hilltoppers finished with 284 against USF, including 200 on the ground.
"The quarterback gashed us a couple of times big," Tresey said. "We obviously hadn't seen it, hadn't repped it. It just didn't hit us."
USF has been stout against the pass, ranking second nationally by allowing just 59 passing yards per game, but the Bulls have struggled against the run, allowing 188.5 yards to rank 98th nationally. Tresey said he was happy the Bulls had avoided the upsets that have hit other BCS programs this season.
"It always concerns you, but bottom line, we won the football game," Tresey said. "In this day and age in football, ask Virginia. That's all I've got to say. Ask Kansas State."
USF quarterback Matt Grothe, who has completed 71 percent of his passes in two games, said the offense will be fine once it gets rid of penalties and mental mistakes.
"The only good thing about it is it's only the second game," Grothe said. "We have time. Patience is a virtue. If we keep getting better every week and eliminate some mental mistakes, penalty-wise, we'll be fine."
THIS AND THAT: USF coach Jim Leavitt said Saturday that receiver Evan Landi will "probably" miss this week's game against Charleston Southern with a shoulder injury. He's hopeful he'll return for the Florida State game. ... Freshman defensive end Ryne Giddins of Armwood made his USF debut, getting 1.5 tackles for loss on WKU's final series. "Once he gave me the opportunity, I had to seize it," Giddins said. "It all depends on what they want me to do. I'm here for the team."