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May 15, 2010After the struggles in against Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, the Bulls were due for a break out. And did they ever.
No. 20 West Virginia came to Tampa on Halloween night only to be haunted by the incredible dual-threat performance of South Florida quarterback B.J. Daniels as the Bulls cruised to a 30-19 victory in front of 56,328 at Raymond James Stadium.
Daniels accounted for 336 yards of total offense - 13 more yards than West Virginia accumulated as a team. 232 coming from his right arm and 104 from his legs, Daniels stupefied the Mountaineers' defense.
"We haven't seen a guy like that (this year), but at the same time that's no excuse for our defense," West Virginia safety Robert Sands told the Associated Press. "We've still got to go out there and make plays. He broke contain too many times, and he burned us."
Following two consecutive hot starts to the season before eventual implosions, Daniels came out with a chip on his shoulder determined to prove that simply would not be the case - at least on this night.
"I guess a lot of people doubted us and thought we were going to go down the same patch we did the last two years,'' he said. ''That was a lot of garbage that our team didn't listen to."
Daniels and wide receiver Carlton Mitchell established a chemistry early and often that wreaked havoc in the West Virginia secondary. Besides a 49-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter, the tandem also connected for a 69-yard pass to set up an eventual score.
Mitchell led all receivers with five catches for 132 yards.
A.J. Love and Sterling Griffin each pitched in for a touchdown a piece and combined for five catches for just under 100 yards.
"They were expecting me to run once I got outside the pocket, so a lot of the DB's had their eyes on me, and our guys got behind them," Daniels said.
Running back Moise Plancher was able to get some momentum going rushing for 86 yards on the ground.
With all the offensive achievements on the night, it could have been potentially lost on some just how well the Bulls defended outstanding Mountaineer running back Noel Devine.
The dynamic playmaker only averaged 2.5 yards per carry en route to a total of 42 yards on the night. Devine added 33 receiving yards, but never found the end zone through either medium.
"We talked a lot about it," said head coach Jim Leavitt. "We didn't want to let him get outside. We wanted to keep him pinned up inside. He is such a great back and if he gets out, he is gone. Also the quarterback we really wanted to keep him up in there, but then he stepped up and then got out. He is hard guy to get sacks on. Noel Devine is a great running back though. I think we have faced two of the best running backs in the country these last two weeks."
Kion Wilson seemed to be omnipresent. The linebacker totaled 12 tackles, two of which were behind the line of scrimmage, and also intercepted an errant Jarrett Brown pass.
Keith McCaskill provided a nice surge up the middle registering six tackles and a quarterback sack for a five-yard loss.
"We hadn't really played good defense in six quarters," said Leavitt. "We played poor in the second half of the Cincinnati game and we played horrible against Pittsburgh. We just didn't play smart against Pittsburgh, so for them to come back and play well will do a lot for them. It will give them their confidence back."
Place kicker Eric Schwartz was perfect on the night hitting all three of his very important field goal attempts.
Finally, the Bulls were headed in the right direction again heading into a crucial road match up with Rutgers up in Piscataway, New Jersey. Would South Florida be able to continue to ride the upward momentum they had managed to gain against the Scarlet Knights?
Talk about it on The Bullpen or El Toro Loco.