Notes: Is Eveld USF's biggest surprise so far?
With USF back in town and practicing on campus this afternoon, it's a good time to revisit the Bulls' preseason camp and the storylines that have already moved to the forefront as we move closer to Skip Holtz's first season as USF coach.
While the biggest lingering question mark is clearly the receiver position -- more on that in a sec -- the biggest surprise of the preseason might be walk-on true freshman quarterback Bobby Eveld (left), who has an edge on fellow true freshman Jamius Gunsby for the backup job behind starter B.J. Daniels.
Last weekend's scrimmage seemed to make a case for Gunsby -- on a day when Daniels and Eveld went a combined 9-for-37 for 91 yards, Gunsby went 11-for-17 for 169 -- but Holtz said Eveld right now has a stronger grasp of the offense, a key criteria as he decides between the two freshmen. Gunsby's athleticism is a plus, to be sure, but today at least, there might be more of a comfort level for Eveld.
"Right now, I'd probably go with Eveld right now, from what I've seen the couple of days, but I have to let that work out on the field, and that will be in the scrimmage Saturday," he said. "Eveld's more polished as a quarterback; Gunsby's a better athlete. That's where we are, and that's the decision we have to make. I think Bobby is farther along mentally with everything."
Eveld, a 6-foot-5 Jesuit grad who was drafted in baseball by the Mets, threw three interceptions in the first scrimmage, but he'll have another chance to show he can avoid mistakes in Saturday's session, which is closed to the public and media. He's already impressed coaches by showing a commitment to learn the playbook, routinely staying late on the field after practices.
-- Asked on Thursday about true freshmen who might play, Holtz initially named six "guys that we are evaluating" -- cornerback Terrence Mitchell, safety Mark Joyce, tackle Quinterrious Eatmon, running back Marcus Shaw, receiver Deonte Welch and Eveld. Asked about Gunsby, he said he would know more after Saturday's scrimmage.
USF's schedule, with easy early games against I-AA Stony Brook and the Sun Belt's Western Kentucky and Florida Atlantic, should allow for a backup to pick up considerable game experience before the Big East season starts on Oct. 9. There's little reason to play both true freshmen this season, so that makes the next two weeks that much more important in deciding which passer to play.
-- At receiver, USF continues to move backups from other positions, hoping to upgrade the second-string receivers. Senior Dontavia Bogan and converted quarterback Evan Landi seem entrenched as starters, with converted running back Lindsey Lamar first in line to be the third starter. From there, there a few options with receiver experience at USF -- 6-6 sophomore T.J. Knowles seems ready to make an impact, with smaller targets like Faron Hornes and Derrick Hopkins next in line, along with two new converts, running back Joel Miller and cornerback Daniel Bryant. Receivers coach Phl McGeoghan doesn't need more than perhaps five or six of the receivers to establish themselves, with the hopes that injured starters A.J. Love and Sterling Griffin can return healthy by the conference schedule.
-- Holtz is also pleased that with the exception of tackle Mark Popek's sprained knee, the Bulls escaped Vero Beach without significant injuries. He said defensive tackle Cory Grissom (foot) could play Saturday, and the only three he considered injured longterm are Popek, Love and Griffin. When schools start Monday, he has 10 more roster spots at his disposal, and Love and Griffin will take two of those, with an open call for interested walk-ons to attend a meeting Monday afternoon. Of course, those additions aren't likely to see the field this season.