USF coaches explain Daniels' first-half interception
Another key play in USF's 30-17 loss to Florida State on Saturday was an interception thrown by Bulls quarterback B.J. Daniels late in the first half, which allowed the Seminoles to extend their halftime lead to 13-3 on a quick field goal.
USF had gone three-and-out on its previous drive, and FSU had missed a 48-yard field goal, giving the Bulls the ball on their 30-yard line with 1:09 left. On second and 10, Daniels threw a deep pass intended for receiver Andre Davis into double coverage, and the ball was intercepted by FSU's Xavier Rhodes, setting FSU up on its 45 with 1:00 left. After three straight completions to tight end Nick O'Leary, FSU missed on two passes from the 25 and settled for a 42-yard field goal with three seconds left.
It's a Catch-22 for Skip Holtz -- he's criticized for being too conservative in offensive playcalling, but also for throwing deep in this situation, knowing Daniels has had a few interceptions in these situations right before halftime in his career.
"There's a minute to play and you have a time out left. It's not like I was sitting there thinking 'Take a knee.' You can't get into a game against a team like that and play conservative," Holtz said after the game. "We went for a short-yardage call later in the game. You have to play it wide-open, give your players a chance to win. We have a fifth-year senior quarterback. I have confidence in him to put the ball in (Davis') hand. Unfortunately, on that one, I don't think the mistake was the read. I think he was trying to make too much happen.
"B.J. is a very emotional player. That's part of what makes B.J. a great player, his emotion, his passion, his leadership. I think he was probably trying to force the ball a little bit downfield and make something happen. He came off the field and said 'I know, Coach, it was my fault. It was a bad read.' He saw it. He was just trying to wedge it in there. I also think it speaks volumes to the confidence he has in Andre Davis to throw it into traffic, that a guy like Andre can go up and make a play for it. In a game like this, you have to take some of those risks, you have to put it up there and trust your teammates that they're going to go make a play for you. You have to be able to do that. It's unfortunate."
Said offensive coordinator Todd Fitch: "Just before the half ... it's a close game. Just threw it short. The read and where he went with it was not a terrible thought process, but you have to know where to miss, so to speak."