USF quarterback Daniels latest test for WKU

Zach Greenwell

Defensive Coordinator Clint Bowen saw plenty of mobile quarterbacks —including Texas’ Vince Young and Missouri’s Brad Smith— during his time as an assistant at Kansas.

He said those experiences have helped him recognize a good running quarterback when he sees one. And according to him, WKU (0-3) will get all it can handle from South Florida sophomore B.J. Daniels when the Toppers visit the Bulls at 6:05 p.m. Saturday.

“He can run the ball very well, and they find creative ways to let him run the ball,” Bowen said of Daniels. “He’s a handful to stop.”

The Toppers got a taste of Daniels last season when he ran for 23 yards and a touchdown in WKU’s 35-13 loss to the Bulls at Houchens-Smith Stadium.

Sophomore defensive tackle Jamarcus Allen said he sees the resemblance between Daniels and former South Florida quarterback Matt Grothe, who rushed more than 2,200 yards in his career.

“He’s really dangerous with his feet,” Allen said. “I’d say he’s more dangerous with his feet than his arm, so we’re not going to let him run all over us.”

This Saturday marks the fourth straight week that WKU has had to prepare for a distinctly different offensive philosophy.

Nebraska used a power running game, Kentucky relied on its versatile playmakers, and Indiana combined a solid pocket passer with tall receivers.

Daniels and South Florida will be a whole other set of problems, which Bowen said can be both good and bad.

“It’ll probably pay off in the end, but it’s not the ideal approach,” Bowen said. “We’re trying to get a young team ready to learn a new defense, and we’ve kind of seen a different offensive approach for three weeks in a row now.”

Head Coach Willie Taggart said seeing those different looks from such high-level teams can only help down the road, especially when WKU tries to win a conference championship.

“I think it’s always good when you go against tough competition,” he said. “Once we get into Sun Belt play, we’ll be back around guys similar to us. I do think it helps our football team, and it shows our guys that we can play with a big-time school if we play consistently.”

Bowen said if nothing else, the Toppers’ grueling first four games will provide the players with practice reps and actual plays to pull from when the same situation arises later.

Allen said it’s been a work in progress to build up that knowledge bank, but he can see it start to slowly accumulate.

“Right now, we just have bits and pieces that aren’t connecting,” Allen said. “We have a 5,000-piece puzzle, and we’re still trying to put it together. Hopefully this week, our last non-conference game, we can put all those pieces together.”