SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Another game without allowing a sack, another game with more than 200 rushing yards, and USF's offensive line continues to fortify its status as the Bulls' most consistent position this season.
"The offensive line is really to be commended, and Demetris Murray and B.J. Daniels, the guys who carried the bulk of the load in the running game," coach Skip Holtz said. "We were able to run the ball. Even the last score, that was just running the ball up the middle. Those guys were coming off the ball and making holes. At halftime, they were very emotional. It was, 'Coach, put it on our backs. We'll carry it.' They wanted it, and I thought that offensive line and the running game did a great job."
As Syracuse threatened to pull closer in the fourth quarter, USF grinded out an 83-yard, nine-play drive that used up four and a half minutes. Defensive coordinator Mark Snyder recognized how much that sustained drive helped his defense.
"They took the game and the clock and didn't put us in harm's way," Snyder said. "They did a tremendous job."
All this without leading rusher Darrell Scott, who missed the game with concussion-like symptoms. Murray stepped up with a career-high 17 carries for 86 yards and two fourth-quarter touchdowns to help the Bulls (5-4, 1-4 Big East) pull away.
"Just a steady football player, just a really good football player," offensive coordinator Todd Fitch said of Murray. "The thing I worried about was how would (backup Marcus Shaw) react. We put Marcus in there a couple of times and he scored a touchdown, got that thing north-south."
ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT: USF's defense again struggled in the fourth quarter, allowing 171 yards (161 passing) after holding Syracuse to 234 total in the first three quarters. That included a 58-yard touchdown pass to WR Alec Lemon, leaving Holtz a reminder that the secondary remains a concern.
THIS AND THAT: This week's game against Miami will start at 3:30 p.m. Saturday and air on ESPNU. … USF is 4-0 at the Carrier Dome. Since joining the Big East in 2005, the Bulls have eight road wins by 14 points or more — half of those at Syracuse. … Daniels had just one game in his first two seasons as starting quarterback in which he totaled 350 yards or more of total offense. He has done it four times this season, including Friday's 371-yard effort. … USF continues to struggle with penalties, committing 10 for 84 yards. Syracuse returned the favor, giving the Bulls four first downs on penalties and totaling seven flags for 86 yards.