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Why USF QBs keep getting overrated

Brian Cook from mgoblog does not hold USF's B.J. Daniels in high regard.

Football Study Hallput up a post with interception rates that highlights one of the many problems Michigan had turning yards into points last year: Denard's interception rate. Amongst a sample of 100 D-I quarterbacks* he finishes 84th. The only BCS quarterbacks to do worse were Garrett Gilbert, Stephen Garcia, Jeremiah Masoli, Steven Threet, BJ Daniels, and Jacory Harris. This is not good company. Harris and Garcia are 1-2 on this list

…and the omission of BJ Daniels, who either throws an 87 yard touchdown or three interceptions every play, must have been an oversight thanks to South Florida's ability to fade into the background.

The media has largely turned on Daniels following a difficult 2010, relegating him from a sleeper Heisman candidate to the ranks of also-rans. That is comforting to Rutgers fans who never bought into the Daniels hype a year ago, considering that we did not exactly have much to celebrate on offense ourselves last season considering RU's historic struggles on that side of the ball. Daniels and USF were bad last year; it's just that their flaws were masked by Rutgers, Pittsburgh, and West Virginia badly underachieving.

Now, it's too early to say whether Skip Holtz's teams will be similar to those fielded under Jim Leavitt, but here's a theory as to why preseason prognosticators inevitably swoon for the Bulls every year. You have to go all the way back to when USF first joined the Big East in 2005. Their quarterback back then was Pat Julmiste, who was, what's the best way to put this - not very good at playing the quarterback position. As hard as this may seem to believe in 2011, Julmiste made Zach Frazer look competent in comparison. Like, he was worse than Perry Patterson, who is otherwise the modern-day Big East benchmark for awful quarterback play.

As undeserving as the Bulls are of any vestiges of sympathy, watching Julmiste destroy drives was so painful that one could not help but feel some sort of urge to watch competitive football. I mean, running back Andre Hall was really freakin' good, falling into the common USF dichotomy where every player on their roster is either really good and relatively underappreciated (Hall, Jason Pierre-Paul, Mike Jenkins, Nate Allen, Carlton Mitchell) or wildly, almost-criminally overrated (Daniels, George Selvie, Matt Grothe, Tyrone McKenzie, Jerome Murphy.) The thinking was at the time that if USF could only replace Julmiste with a living, breathing, even halfway competent DI passer, then they could really go places. If you're looking for halfway competent, no one fits that bill better than Matt Grothe.

What happened with Grothe was that he was an instant, immediate upgrade over Julmiste; so much so that everyone had to wonder what exactly the ceiling was for these upstarts from Tampa. The answer was, of course, that it was far better than it was with Julmiste, but the Bulls would never win the Big East championship while being held back by Grothe's uninspiring interception-to-touchdown ratio and a mediocre coaching staff. And yet the intoxicating buzz around South Florida and Grothe persisted in spite of consecutive late-season swoons. That's why there was an overwhelming air of dread and gloom surrounding the program after Grothe tore his ACL in early 2009.

The bad old days of Julmiste were still fresh in everyone's minds. Grothe was irreplaceable, or so the myth went, before being quickly shattered by the emergence of Daniels in a dazzling upset over a floundering Florida State team in the midst of Bobby Bowden's swan song. Sure, Daniels was mistake-prone as a thrower, but he more than made up for it with his exploits on the ground. 2009 was an up-and-down season, but he still had years to improve, or so the reasoning went. Skeptics at that time pointed to Grothe, arguing that players do not always necessarily follow a linear progression. The mean player does, but that average of thousands of players masks a wide array of peaks and valleys in each individual's respective career.

Two players does not make a trend, but it's fairly clear that Daniels was not properly valued last year due to everyone wildly overrating Grothe, which was, fairly, a merited reaction to Julmiste's tenure. Grothe was a signficantupgrade over Julmiste. Objectively though, he just wasn't anything to write home about. Not judging Grothe's value properly in turn caused the Daniels speculative hype bubble. USF fans still hold him in high regard because they don't have an adequate basis for comparison, a charge which can just as easily be leveled against Rutgers fans (and honestly looks worse for our side considering the whole "inventing football" thing, even if RU didn't actually get serious about it until recently.)

Does that mean that it's fair to write off Daniels entirely for 2011? Of course not, although the most likely outcome is that, for better or worse, he'll still be the same boom-or-bust player from the past two seasons. Everyone will once again rank South Florida far too highly in their preseason rankings than would otherwise be warranted by objective analysis (re: very few returning starters, even if that has to be weighed against who they have in the pipeline ready to contribute.) This time, they will just find another explanation (most likely Holtz or the defense) now that the "exciting young QB" storyline has fizzled out.