SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Chandler Jones had just finished chasing South Florida quarterback B.J. Daniels to no avail.
The Syracuse defensive end had almost sacked Daniels, but the senior quarterback sprinted out of the collapsing pocket, and took off for the sideline, turning a loss of yardage into a gain.
“I almost had you, I almost had you,” Jones said to Daniels.
Daniels shot back, “Almost doesn’t count.”
That was a recurring theme as Daniels frustrated the Orange through the air and on the ground in a 37-17 demolition in the Carrier Dome on Friday night. Daniels finished the game with 254 yards through the air, 117 yards on the ground and a rushing touchdown.
“We really put the pedal to the metal,” Daniels said. “We just kept putting on points. We just wanted to do the little things that got us ahead in the first half.”
Those little things involved Daniels using his speed and instinct to his advantage.
“He is a slippery little son of a gun back there in the pocket,” USF head coach Skip Holtz said. “He keeps plays alive with his mind his arm and feet. He is really starting to become the complete package.”
Said Jones: “I feel like he was a one-man team. He did a good job of extending plays and getting those extra yards that everyone did not see.”
Jones and the rest of the Syracuse defense struggled to defend the zone option, which Daniels executed perfectly.
Demetris Murray was the beneficiary of Daniel’s decision making, as he rushed for 86 yards and two touchdowns. Overall, USF bulldozed the Orange defense on the ground, rushing for a combined 236 yards and four touchdowns.
On the season, Daniels has thrown for 2027 yards and 12 touchdowns and rushed for 440 yards and four touchdowns.
“I thought B.J. Daniels played arguably one of his best games since he has played here,” Holtz said. “He is coming along unbelievably. He is poised. He is a leader. He understands this offense now.”