Passing TDs vs. INTs: USF is last in BCS
There are three things we're hearing a lot about this week as the Bulls try to focus their attention on problem areas -- turnover margin, third down on offense and the passing game. Improve in those three areas, and USF will be in good position to reverse their current skid.
Just how bad are the Bulls in those areas? Consider the passing game in terms of passing touchdowns vs. interceptions -- as a plus-minus, USF has the worst out of 66 programs in BCS conferences, sitting at minus-5 (5 TDs, 10 INTs). In all of Division I-A, only New Mexico (minus-6) and Middle Tennessee State (minus-8) are worse, though there are solid programs close to USF -- LSU, Penn State and Kentucky are all at minus-4. Friday's opponent Cincinnati, by comparison, is sitting at plus-14, with 17 TDs and just three interceptions -- the only schools in the nation with a better differential are USC and Boise State at plus-17 and Hawaii, which is a ridiculous plus-19.
Third downs? Nobody in Division I-A has converted fewer third downs than the Bulls, who have just 17 in 65 opportunities, a 26.6 percent success rate. The conversion percentage is fourth-lowest in I-A -- Maryland, Vanderbilt and San Jose State are the only schools worse. Again, it's an area of strength for Cincinnati, which converts 42.5 percent of its third downs.
Turnover margin is bad for USF, but actually worse for Cincinnati -- the Bulls are at minus-4, which ties them for 90th nationally, but Cincinnati is lower at minus-6, which ties them for 108th and puts them at the bottom of the Big East standings. It's an area where USF might be able to capitalize -- B.J. Daniels probably knows now that the Bearcats have just two interceptions all season (only two teams in I-A have fewer).
Lots more to come later today -- USF doesn't practice, getting its second day off in three days, but we'll have more notes and quotes later.