Early Matchup - Ball State at South Florida
Ball State RB Cory Sykes & USF QB B.J. Daniels
Ball State RB Cory Sykes & USF QB B.J. Daniels
Posted Jun 12, 2011

Looking ahead at the Early Matchups - Ball State at South Florida

Preview 2011

Early Matchup - Ball State at USF

- 2011 Ball State Preview | 2011 Ball State Offense
- 2011 Ball State Defense | 2011 Ball State Depth Chart
- Ball State Previews 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006

- 2011 USF Preview | 2011 USF Offense
- 2011 USF Defense | 2011 USF Depth Chart
- USF Previews  2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006

Ball State

Offense: After a miserable 2009, the offense was supposed to be far better and far more efficient and effective last year. Instead it was last in the MAC in passing and finished 106h in the nation in total yards. Expect a major change with the coaching staff going with an up-tempo, no-huddle attack – but it's NOT a spread offense; the coaches are emphatic about that – that can adapt to the situation. The passing game is going to start doing much, much more with the passing game going to be the main mode of transportation thanks to a veteran receiving corps and more expected from second-year quarterback Keith Wenning. The running backs are deep and quick, and they should shine behind an experienced, good line with five players with starting experience back.

Defense: The D might have finished tenth in the MAC in total defense and scoring defense, but it wasn't all that bad. The pass rush was non-existent and the run defense was soft, and now the hope will be that experience translates into more production. New defensive coordinator Jay Bateman spent the last four years at Elon, and he's great at putting together top-shelf run defenses. That could be a problem right away with a line that has experience, but not a lot of talent. The secondary should be one of the team's biggest strengths with safety Sean Baker and corner Jason Pinkston two of the MAC's better pickoff artists. Middle linebacker Travis Freeman leads an experienced, but smallish corps that's built like a bunch of safeties, but can move.

Best offensive player: Junior RB Eric Williams. The team needs QB Keith Wenning to be the best offensive playmaker, but it's Williams who'll balance things out and should be the gamebreaker. He has decent size and phenomenal speed, but now he needs more room to move and more chances to get into the open. While he's a good runner with the potential to be a star in the new offense as a receiver, he's at his best as a kickoff returner.

Best defensive player: Senior S Sean Baker. The tone-setting leader of the defense, Baker is a proven all-star who hits like a ton of bricks and doesn't miss a stop with 243 career tackles. The Cardinal back seven is full of players who can stick, but it's Baker who's the difference maker. Great against the run and better when the ball is in the air, he's the total package.

South Florida

Offense: Well, the good news is that the Bulls will have the same coordinator in successive seasons for the first time in four years. Todd Fitch is back, looking for much better results out of the pro-style attack he installed in 2010. After an opening day blowout of Stony Brook, the offense fizzled, ranking 105th nationally in total offense and 85th in scoring. The face of the struggles was QB B.J. Daniels, who failed to build on his rookie year, throwing more picks than touchdowns and waiting until the bowl game to explode. The program clearly needs him to be more prolific in order to have any chance of turning things around. Making matters worse, the receivers are ordinary and the line needs to replace three starters. Hope, however, comes from the backfield, where Demetris Murray is ready to evolve after playing well last season, and Colorado transfer Darrell Scott makes his highly-anticipated debut. He has every-down potential, but needs to prove he's worthy of the touches.

Defense: After debuting with a unit that ranked no lower than 22nd nationally in scoring and total defense, coordinator Mark Snyder is hoping for even better results this fall. The coach proved he could adapt without the previous regime's stars, encouraging news as five key starters depart. For years now, the Bulls' personality has been carved out on defense, a talented and athletic group that flies to the ball and creates havoc. This edition will be no different, sporting talent and potential at every level. No, there aren't any household names, but the collective group is outstanding and sure to get better as the season progresses. Up-and-comers, like DE Ryne Giddins, S Jon Lejiste, and linebackers DeDe Lattimore and Sam Barrington, have only scratched the surface of their ability, and are poised to erupt in 2011.

Best offensive player: Junior QB B.J. Daniels. Still? Yeah, this speaks to the quarterback's potential and the dearth of sure-things on the South Florida offense. As ineffective as Daniels was last year, he's still the heart of the attack, a player good enough to earn MVP honors in the Meineke Car Care Bowl win over Clemson. A terrific, physical athlete and savvy runner, he has two more years to polish up his throwing mechanics and truly develop into a dual-threat playmaker behind center.

Best defensive player: Sophomore LB DeDe Lattimore. Before he's through, Lattimore is capable of becoming the best non-Buccaneer linebacker to ever play in Tampa. He got off to a solid start as a rookie at weakside, making 69 tackles, 6.5 stops for loss, and 2.5 sacks. For a solid, 6-2, 237-pounder, he moves well from sideline-to-sideline and plays with keen instincts. With a full season of experience now behind him, he's on the verge of becoming the Bulls' premier defender and an All-Big East contender.