With injuries taking a toll at the wide receiver position, South Florida coach Skip Holtz is looking at starting two freshmen when the Bulls go to Rutgers.
True freshman Andre Davis will get his first career start and redshirt freshman Deonte Welch will be making his third as the Bulls look to begin a drive they hope will take them to a seventh consecutive bowl game.
Holtz, who learned during the team's bye week the Bulls had lost sophomore Sterling Griffin for the season, said in a report in the Tampa Tribune he thought Davis and Welch were ready to play.
"They're just young," he said. "They'll be a little bit nervous when they first get out there, but after the first couple of plays they'll get rid of their nervousness."
Welch, who has played in all seven games, has 11 catches for 213 yards, which translates to nearly 20 yards a catch on average. Davis has made six appearances and has eight catches for 105 yards. He goes have two touchdown receptions.
But they will be facing a different kind of pressure, Holtz said.
"It's going to be a little bit different challenge because they're going to have somebody standing as close to them as this podium is to me right now," Holtz said. They're going to have somebody in their face all day."
It's a critical time for the Bulls to be going with new receivers. They are 4-3 on the season and off to a 0-3 start in the Big East.
After this trip, the Bulls are on the road once more, at Syracuse, before getting home for three consecutive home games against Miami, Louisville, and West Virginia.
--The game at Rutgers will be one of only two of USF's last five games to be played on a Saturday. The Bulls have two Friday appearances (Nov. 11 at Syracuse and Nov. 25 against Louisville) and a Thursday game (Dec. 1 against West Virginia) on the remaining schedule. The other Saturday game will be Nov. 19 against Miami at home.
--Something is going to have to give. The Bulls are tied for the top spot in the league with Cincinnati when it comes to protecting the quarterback, having surrendered only nine sacks in seven games. You can credit QB B.J. Daniels' mobility for much of that success. Rutgers, however, is No. 2 in the conference and tied for ninth nationally in sacks with an average of 3.13 per game (26 total in eight games).
--USF won the first meeting with Rutgers in 2005 but then lost four in the series until snapping the losing streak with a one-point win last year. The winning score came when RT Jacob Sims recovered RB Moise Plancher's fumble in the end zone with 9:33 left in the game.
SERIES HISTORY: Rutgers leads USF 4-2 (last meeting, 2010, USF 28-27).
SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: USF is the No. 2 team offensively in the Big East with its average of just under 479 yards a game. Nearly 197 of that comes on the ground, making the Bulls the No. 2 rushing team in the league. RBs Darrell Scott and Demetris Murray are combining for 820 yards a game rushing and QB B.J. Daniels is adding 376. Daniels also is throwing for 264 a game despite inconsistent play from the wide receivers.
SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: USF ranks only fifth in the Big East in total defense, yielding just over 362 yards a game, but in a bend-but-don't-break mold is second in the conference in red zone defense. The Bulls have allowed opponents inside their 20-yard line 25 times but yielded only 13 touchdowns and five field goals for a 72 percent success rate.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I've been following the Weather Channel closely after watching that game from last week when they played in the snowstorm, which obviously was not ideal conditions." -- Coach Skip Holtz, referring to Rutgers' game against West Virginia played after the blizzard that hit the Northeast.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAME: USF at Rutgers, Nov. 5 -- Rutgers has dropped its last two games (Louisville and West Virginia) to fall to 5-3 overall and 2-2 in the Big East. Though they will need help, the Scarlet Knights still have the opportunity to earn a share of the conference title if they can win out.
KEYS TO THE GAME: Take care of the football. The Bulls are on the plus-side in turnover margin (15 to their opponents' 19) but will have to be vigilant against a Rutgers defense that is second nationally in forcing turnovers with 26 already. QB B.J. Daniels is going to have to make good decisions when it comes time to getting rid of the football.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
QB B.J. Daniels -- The junior has been using his running skills judiciously this season with 376 yards rushing, second on the team between RBs Darrell Scott and Demetris Murray. Daniels has improved his passing accuracy to 62.1 percent and has thrown for 11 touchdowns against only four interceptions in 235 attempts.
DE Claude Davis -- The senior has become a playmaker off the bench for the Bulls. He has a team-high four sacks among his 10 tackles and has forced two fumbles and recovered one.
LB DeDe Lattimore -- Lattimore leads the Bulls in tackles with an even 50 (6.0 for losses) and also has been responsible for two takeaways. He has one interception and recovered a fumble.
--Sophomore WR/PR Terrence Mitchell, who sustained a concussion back on Sept. 24 in the game against Texas-El Paso, has returned to practice but is not likely to play at Rutgers.
--Sophomore WR Sterling Griffin, who injured his ankle against Cincinnati on Oct. 22, will miss the rest of the season. He had 40 receptions, more than double the next guy on the list, for 493 yards and two touchdowns.
--Redshirt freshman OG Tony Kibler has been suspended following his arrest on two felony charges of armed burglary and improper exhibition of a weapon on campus. He was a backup who had appeared in two games.
--WR Chris Dunkley, a transfer from Florida sitting out this season as per NCAA rules, had surgery after injuring his wrist. He has three years of eligibility remaining.
--Redshirt freshman LB Reshard Cliett is questionable for the game at Rutgers because of an ankle injury. A backup, he has four tackles and has broken up a pass in seven appearances.
--Sophomore WR Stephen Bravo-Brown, who missed the game against Cincinnati, was back at practice and will be available for the game at Rutgers.
--Senior WR A.J. Love, who has been hampered recently by nagging type injuries, looks to have benefited from the bye week and should be "full-go" for Rutgers. Click here to share your thoughts with other USF fans!