BJ Daniels Does Not Deserve the Criticism

Over the past few weeks, USF quarterback BJ Daniels has been at the center of criticism from the fans and local media for poor decisions, bad clock management and all around execution. However, majority of this criticism is unwarranted as well as incorrect.

One week ago, the USF Bulls were down 17-10 against Pittsburgh. USF had just gotten the ball back and were hoping to mount a game tying drive with less than 2 minutes to go. The Bulls made it to their own 49 yard line with roughly twenty seconds on the clock. Everyone in the crowd was calling for Daniels to spike the ball and stop the clock. However, when he snapped the ball, no such play was made. Daniels was dropping back to run a play, but no receivers were running any routes. The receivers were simply looking back to Daniels, as they expected the ball to be spiked too.

This play brought a flurry of boos and insults towards the sophomore QB, as everyone in Raymond James Stadium thought that Daniels misread the call. However, all of these verbal attacks were completely baseless, as Daniels was simply running the play that was given to him by the signal callers on the sideline.

Coach Skip Holtz spoke after the game about the play, “There were some miscommunications and I don’t know if the signal was given from the sideline. We called a play, but a couple of the players on the field saw the clock play, which you don’t move;  BJ saw the call; a couple of the other players saw the clock play (to spike the ball). I thought (the play) was to turn and hit one more ball, give us the middle of the field and save our timeout.”

It was not Daniels that misunderstood the play call and the situation, but instead the players around him.

One comment that I have heard multiple times over the past week, was questioning why Daniels did not simply throw the ball out of bounds when he saw that his receivers were not the same page. That is because BJ had no ability to scramble out of the pocket, due to a “deep” quadriceps bruise (similar to the one that held Mistral Raymond out of the Louisville game a week prior) as well as a fairly painful case of turf toe. BJ had been playing through pain the entire game and he had no ability to get out of the pocket to avoid an intentional grounding penalty.

Holtz said that, “(Daniels) had to go through an awful lot from a treatment standpoint last week, from a shot he had taken (earlier) this week.” These injuries have taken away Daniels ability to be the duel threat QB that forces defenses to stay honest, which puts a much greater pressure on the rest of the offense.

The supporting cast for BJ Daniels seems as though it is one out of a sandlot game, as Skip Holtz calls the receivers, “The Land of Misfit Toys.” The receiving corps has this nickname primarily to the fact that there is only has one wide receiver who was brought in on scholarship, Dontavia Bogan. The other receivers include, converted QB Evan Landi, converted RB Lindsey Lamar, former punt return specialist Faron Hornes, converted cornerback Terrance Mitchell and true freshman walk on Stephen Bravo-Brown.

Not that these players are incapable of playing the position successfully for USF. But for Daniels to rely on a receiving core that is still trying to learn their new positions, is an extremely difficult task for a young QB still learning a new offensive system.

BJ Daniels has been in the most unfortunate spot this season with 4 potential starters not being a part of the team this fall, with AJ Love and Sterling Griffin out with season ending injuries, as well as Mike Ford and Jamar Taylor being kicked off the team for rules violations. Daniels has had little help to consistently move the chains. The team’s primary option Dontavia Bogan missed 2 games with an ankle sprain and receives the opposing team’s best DB each week, making Daniels’ effort to get him the ball even tougher.

Give Todd Fitch and BJ Daniels a lot of credit for adjusting their offensive game plan each and every week. Switching from a power run to a option running team as well as a pocket passing offense to more of a play-action roll out for BJ and the offense to be more successful.

BJ Daniels has helped lead this team back to a 6th straight bowl game from what looked to be a disastrous losing season a little over a month ago. And until Daniels has the proper talent and skill players surrounding him, he does not deserve the criticism he is currently receiving about the USF offensive struggles.