USF's Daniels presents moving target for FSU

BY foxsports • September 26, 2012

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — B.J. Daniels' feet may be more dangerous than his right arm. The South Florida quarterback can throw the ball a mile, as FSU's EJ Manuel observed. But Daniels' ability to scramble sets him apart.

Florida State may have had the best preparation for Daniels after coming off a game against Clemson. The Seminoles chased mobile quarterback Tajh Boyd around the field Saturday night and often struggled to contain him to the pocket.

The Seminoles sacked Boyd just once in the 49-37 win on Saturday.

There are, of course, similarities between the two. But in many respects, Daniels is more elusive.

"(Daniels) really looks to use his legs," FSU linebacker Vince Williams said. "He likes to get outside of the pocket. Tajh is more if you force him to run, he's going to run. This guy excels on the broken play."

Daniels has made the most of designed running plays and busted plays alike. He is USF's No. 2 rusher with 199 yards and is averaging 4.3 yards per carry.

The USF senior has always been tough to bring down, even going back to his days as a quarterback at Tallahassee's Lincoln High. Daniels simply wore out high school defenses with his ability to extend plays and then either scramble or find receivers downfield.

FSU didn't really recruit Daniels, who gave indications that he wanted to play both football and basketball in college. After narrowing his choices to USF and Memphis, Daniels was Tampa-bound.

He eventually focused just on football and took over as USF's starter in 2009 after an injury to senior quarterback Matt Grothe. And his first start came as a freshman in his hometown in 2009, as he passed for 215 yards and ran for 126 yards in an upset of the No. 18 Seminoles.

Three years later, Daniels is perhaps more dangerous as a runner because of his experience. But for a senior, he's still not particularly accurate (56.6 percent completion percentage) and is prone to throwing interceptions (six in just four games). Daniels had just seven interceptions in 2011, and for his career he has 47 touchdowns and 35 interceptions.

Despite the mistakes, FSU coach Jimbo Fisher sees Daniels as a talent that in some respects is more challenging than Clemson's Boyd.

"He's a phenomenal athlete," Fisher said of Daniels. "He can throw the ball long, long distances. No play is ever dead. He can run. We had a hard time getting Tajh on the ground. And his arm in my opinion is probably livelier than Tajh's. He can throw it farther. He is a dynamic player."

FSU's defensive front would love to contain Daniels to the pocket as much as possible. Even without All-America defensive end Brandon Jenkins, who suffered a season-ending injury in the opener against Murray State, the Seminoles have been able to put pressure on the quarterback.

Bjoern Werner (6.5 sacks) and Tank Carradine (5.5 sacks) have the majority of the Seminoles' 13 sacks this season. But defensive tackles like Everett Dawkins, Timmy Jernigan, Demonte McAllister and Anthony McCloud have been able to apply pressure up the middle and not allow quarterbacks to step up in the pocket.

But playing a mobile quarterback also creates a problem in that FSU's line can't just bull or speed rush. Daniels will make them pay if FSU isn't cautious.

"It slows down being able to truly pass rush," Dawkins said. "You have to be aware of him scrambling and trying to get out of the pocket. You have to be more lane-specific. You have to play within the defense."

USF has an experienced offensive line, led by Mark Popek, Danous Estenor and Quinterrius Eatmon, and the group has allowed just three sacks in four games.

Sacking Daniels isn't impossible, it's just that more often than not the pressure comes his way and he finds an opening to escape.

"You can see it a couple times on film that the pocket was being closed and he has always escaped," Carradine said. "It's hard to bring him down. I can tell that he's very creative."

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