Holtz likes QB battle, not naming starter yet
After a full week of open competition, USF coach Skip Holtz said Monday that he likes the ongoing battle between redshirt freshman Matt Floyd and junior Bobby Eveld for the starting quarterback nod Saturday at Miami, but isn't ready to name a starter.
"I've met with both of them. I think it's a very healthy competition going on between the two," said Holtz, who had Floyd as the top backup and Eveld redshirting until B.J. Daniels' season-ending ankle injury against Connecticut. "Bobby is in the mindset that, if this team needs me, I'm ready to play. I'm going to give it my all and do everything I can. I think he's really excited about the opportunity if he gets to play, but I don't think Matt's going to go away slowly. I think we have a heck of a quarterback competition going on right now with the two of them. ... As of now, I'm not sure when I would name a starter."
Holtz said by not naming a starter, both quarterbacks will prepare as if they're playing, which should help the team in the event of another injury on Saturday. Holtz mentioned the experience advantage that Eveld has, having led the Bulls to an overtime win at Miami and made two career starts; Floyd has seen only limited playing time in three home games this season.
"That's something you have to put into the equation," Holtz said. "He definitely has more game experience in his hip pocket than Matt does, and it's something you're a little bit concerned about, when you watch Matt go in last week and the very first play he's under center, we fumble the ball. ... That will definitely be something you have to lean towards Bobby on, with game experience."
Coming in for a single play against Florida State in late September, Floyd was sacked and his fumble was recovered and returned for a touchdown; in his first play stepping in for Daniels against UConn, he fumbled the snap, though tight end Jeff Hawkins recovered for USF. The QB-center exchange was precarious enough that USF ran out its "victory" formation with Floyd in shotgun.
"It's still about who gives you the best chance to win by protecting the ball, but that's one of those intangible things that has to lean in Bobby's favor with his game experience," Holtz said.
KICKOFF SET: USF's game at Cincinnati on Friday, Nov. 23, has been set for a 7 p.m. kickoff, with national TV broadcast on ESPN.
LITTLE PROGRESS: After holding out several key injured players during USF's bye week, Holtz said that four key offensive starters -- guards Mark Popek and Danous Estenor, tight end Evan Landi and receiver Derrick Hopkins -- did not practice Sunday. He said Landi and Hopkins would be "doubtful" to play on Saturday, while Popek and Estenor might have a better chance to make their returns.
"It's not just the injuries on the offensive side of the ball ... but it's also that senior leadership," said Holtz, who has a policy of requiring players to practice by Wednesday to start and by Thursday to play and said the injured players are "on the bubble" for those deadlines.
LAST TRIP: Saturday is USF's last scheduled trip to play at Miami, with the Hurricanes set to finish the six-game series next season, and Holtz said he'd like to continue the in-state rivalry.
"This is one of those bus rivalries. You can get on a bus and go to the game," Holtz said. "We don't have too many of those games where we've been able to do that. I'm very grateful the series has been scheduled the way it has been, not just in a game here or there but a year-in, year-out rivalry game. I think it's great for both fan bases and great for both programs."
DANIELS UPDATE: Daniels underwent surgery to repair the broken bone at the base of his left leg last week, and Holtz said Monday that he has a "two to three-month injury," which would set up a full recovery by February, potentially allowing Daniels to take part in USF's pro day for NFL scouts leading up to the NFL draft.