Midseason Report: South Florida


Record: 2-4, 0-2

I am sure USF fans do not want a rehash of the first half of the season, and players probably want to put it behind them as well. It is not just the fans who are disappointed with the way the season has started, but everybody in the entire program is as well. I can tell you nobody in Tampa expected this, not with so many veteran leaders returning this season, with an opportunity to make a statement in September with a nationally televised Thursday night game against Rutgers.

USF went into that game off an amazing fourth-quarter comeback win over Nevada. But that win took a toll on the team, when you factor in the short work week, the long ride home, and giving just about everything they had physically to win that game. USF lost to Rutgers and has been in a free fall since then, dropping four straight games. Questions are now surrounding coach Skip Holtz, who is 15-16 in three seasons at USF. Athletic director Doug Woolard said he would re-evaluate Holtz when the season ends.

Make no mistake. USF has talent on this team. But the Bulls have not found a way to get that talent to play to its strengths. The defense, supposedly loaded up front, ranks last in the Big East in rushing D (173.5 yards per game). Total defense is not much better, ranking No. 7 in the Big East. With just about the same group of players, USF is giving up some 40 yards more per game this season than a year ago.

Three more reasons USF is not winning: the Bulls are at minus-10 in turnover margin, No. 8 in the Big East in time of possession (26:03) and No. 7 in penalties (65.8 ypg). The second half of the season begins at Louisville on Saturday, a tough test for a group in desperate need to stop its slide.

Offensive MVP: B.J. Daniels. Playing quarterback opens you up for criticism, and Daniels has taken his fair share. But he has more than carried the load this season, taking on a much bigger presence in the run game. Daniels is averaging 296.8 yards of total offense, No. 2 in the Big East. He has 11 of the team's 15 touchdowns this season.

Defensive MVP: Tevin Mims. This one might come as a surprise to some of you, but coaches have been really pleased with what he has brought to the defense in his first season. Mims has 25 tackles and 2.5 sacks, along with a forced fumble, and has been the most consistent player up front.