Running With the Bulls

September 20, 2009 10:22 AM

South Florida's Expected Win Produces Unexpected Loss

The University of South Florida was supposed to be the stuffing out of Charleston Southern on Saturday night and it did, 59-0.

The Bulls were supposed to get out of that contest without any serious injuries and turn their sights toward bigger prizes, FSU and the Big East.

They didn't.

Fate dealt the Bulls a real whammy when all-everything quarterback Matt Grothe, the all-time offensive leader in the Big East, was tackled, bent backwards in an awkward position and suffered a sprained left knee with three minutes left in the half and his team ahead 28-0.

At that point, Grothe had his offense clicking, he was simply Grothe doing what Grothe does, rolling up nearly 150 yards passing in less than 30 minutes of play.

What happened hushed the crowd of around 30,000 at Raymond James Stadium. Surely it hushed every player, every coach.

Grothe was out, backup B.J. Daniels was in.

Daniels has been described by his offensive coordinator, Mike Canales, as "a very, very special player."

He is.

All Daniels did was step in and immediately pick up where Grothe left off. The Buccaneer defense had no answer or him. He racked up 149 yards passing efficiently, he hit 10-of-13 then showed his speed and elusiveness when he ran for 105 yards.

Put simply, Daniels has talent galore. He wears jersey No. 7 because he fancied the moves and athleticism of Michael Vick when Vick played for the Falcons.

By the time the bashing of the Buccaneers was complete, USF had burned up 547 yards total offense and equaled it biggest shutout win in school history.

The players know what Daniels can do and Daniels, likewise, knows what he can do on a football field.

"I did my best not to let the team down, not to let Matt down," Daniels said after his performance.

He didn't let anyone down.

Most likely he'll be the starter when he returns to his home town next week, Tallahassee, where he starred at Lincoln High.

He'll have to lead his team against an FSU squad that shocked and stomped on No. 7 BYU on Saturday night in Provo, Utah, 54-28.

"We did what we're supposed to do," Jim Leavitt said after the team's third straight win of the 2009 season. "We played with more passion, more poise and more focus."

As for the loss of his star quarterback, you could hear the disappointment in Leavitt's voice:

"The win was a double-edge sword. I'd give it up to have not lost Matt but we won't know until he has an MRI. He's incredible, he's special. We knew B.J. is a good player and he'd play well. Right now B.J. is the guy. I have kind of a broken heart. We'll hope for the best."

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