Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

This wasn't B.J. Daniels' full body of work for USF Bulls

B.J. Daniels adjusts a call in the third quarter. He threw four picks, but UF coach Urban Meyer called him “a superstar.”


B.J. Daniels adjusts a call in the third quarter. He threw four picks, but UF coach Urban Meyer called him “a superstar.”

GAINESVILLE — His legs said yes.

His arm said no.

Rarely has a quarterback's body language disagreed so loudly with itself. USF quarterback B.J. Daniels was equal parts awesome and awful in Saturday's 38-14 loss to Florida. He was fabulous, and he was frustrating. For a while, he gave his team every chance to win, and later, no chance at all.

How do you begin to grade a performance such as this one? When he was running the ball, when he was an athlete, Daniels was a highlight film. But when he was passing, when he was a quarterback, Daniels had almost as many of his passes caught by the opposition as his own receivers. Depending on your point of view, it was either the greatest bad game in USF history, or it was the worst great one.

And so, like a program itself, it has become more clear which way an athlete must grow. Like the Bulls themselves, Daniels must become more efficient, more patient, more intelligent on a football field. The confidence is admirable, and the competitiveness is praiseworthy. The control, however, needs some work.

This is one of the lessons that came out of the Bulls' loss to Florida. For all of the good plays that USF made, the bad ones will dominate the memories of this game. It wasn't just that an opportunity slipped through their hands. It was that they threw it up for grabs.

Let's agree on this first. The Bulls had no shot in this game if not for Daniels. He ran 17 times for 107 yards, Six times, he had gains of 10 yards or more. Nine times, he ran for a first down.

When it was time to throw, however, Daniels struggled. He completed only 5 of 20 passes, and he had four intercepted. That left him with a 25 completion percentage and a 36.8 rating. (For comparison purposes, Daniels would have had a 21.7 rating using the NFL formula).

Put it this way: When a quarterback's coach refers to him as "an athlete," it isn't always a complement. It's also a suggestion there is improvement to be made.

"I would say athletically, he is a tremendous athlete," USF coach Skip Holtz said. "He's a great competitor. He more or less put this team on his shoulders on the opening drive and went down the field. He can run. He can make some things happen. He can do some things."

But …

"Right now, we do not make very good decisions in the passing game. I can handle an incomplete pass. Right before the half, throw the ball into the ground, put it away. We have to remember this. B.J. is a sophomore on the football field, and he is a true freshman in this offense. In some split-second decisions, he didn't make some wise choices."

For instance, there was the third and 6 just before halftime, when UF had snuffed out a screen pass. Instead of throwing the ball away, Daniels forced a throw. It was intercepted and set up the Gators for their first touchdown.

"With his competitive nature, B.J. is probably saying, 'You know what? I can get it in there. I'm going to force it in there, and we're going to put a two-minute drive together and go down there and score,' " Holtz said. "I don't think it's that B.J. doesn't care. I don't think it's that he's not talented enough. I just think he doesn't have a lot of experience, and he's running a new offense."

Late in the third quarter, it happened again. Daniels was scrambling to escape a heavy rush and had his pass picked off by Florida defensive end Justin Trattou, who returned it 35 yards for a touchdown.

"The smart thing would have been to throw the ball away," Daniels said. "I was in the moment. We all make mistakes in the moment. There is definitely stuff I can work on."

Without the interceptions, Daniels said it "definitely" would have been close at the end.

Should this change your opinion of Daniels? No. He's still the most dangerous player in the Bulls' huddle. On every drive, he's still the Bulls' most important weapon. Does he need maturity? Sure he does.

That said, get a load of what Florida coach Urban Meyer said about him.

"Their quarterback is a superstar," Meyer said. "That guy is a tough nut, man. He's an SEC quarterback (in talent), no doubt about it. I think he's a great quarterback."

Eventually, that's the goal. Eventually, Daniels must corral his impulse to turn every play into a big gain. Eventually, he will be more precise. Eventually, he will become more efficient.

Do that, and no one will ever call him "an athlete" again.

Just a quarterback

This wasn't B.J. Daniels' full body of work for USF Bulls 09/11/10 [Last modified: Sunday, September 12, 2010 12:46pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Bucs-Jaguars: Five things to watch Thursday in Jacksonville


    JACKSONVILLE — The Bucs have their second preseason game here Thursday against the Jaguars, and here are five things to keep an eye on as Tampa Bay moves closer to paring its roster from 90 players to 53 by Sept. 3.


    Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) participates in training camp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  2. We knew Aguayo was a goner, and 'Hard Knocks' still delivers


    Tuesday night's second installment of Hard Knocks, the HBO show that is going behind the scenes at training camp with the Bucs, had plenty of interesting tidbits, revelations and insights.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicker Roberto Aguayo (19) kicks during training camp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  3. For starters: Rays at Jays, with a different look to lineup


    UPDATE, 6:15: Even with some success last night, Cash followed through on some discussed lineup changes, dropping struggling Corey Dickerson from the top to 7th and replacing him with Brad Miller, who hasn't hit much but has been walking a lot.

    "Maybe just a change of scenery for both the guys that got …

    Daniel Robertson is expected to make a third straight start tonight, likely at shortstop.
  4. What you might have missed in the second episode of the Bucs on 'Hard Knocks'


    We're back for another episode of The Annotated Hard Knocks, trying to find behind-the-scenes insights and things you might have missed in Tuesday's second episode of "Hard Knocks," following the Bucs in …

    As the crowd recognized him and got loud, Jameis Winston jumped up and down in celebration. [GREG AUMAN | Times]
  5. Why Noah Spence could be the Bucs' X-factor


    JACKSONVILLE — Noah Spence crouched in a four-point stance, bending low like a sprinter in starting blocks. At the snap, he took one step to his right, startling Jaguars left tackle Josh Wells with his explosiveness. Wells went for the move and Spence countered with an inside swim move, flying past Wells' right …

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Noah Spence (57) participates in training camp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times