QB quandary: Floyd making more plays, more mistakes
VERO BEACH -- Two weeks before USF's season opener, coach Willie Taggart stopped short of saying he has a two-man battle for the starting quarterback job, but Bobby Eveld and Matt Floyd's familiarity from spring continues to keep them ahead of their competition.
"We've still got another week to go," Taggart said. "I don't want to sell those other guys short. I really want to continue to let them compete, and I also want to continue to see Bobby and Matt continue to compete. I want to see us get better. I want to limit those mistakes. Those will kill us in the fall. That's one thing we're looking for: guys to make plays and not hurt us."
Taggart's quandary between the two returning quarterbacks is a difficult one: Floyd, the sophomore, is making more plays than the senior Eveld, but he's also making more mistakes. Taggart puts a premium on limiting turnovers, which is where Eveld continues to have an edge.
"Matt has made some really great plays this training camp, but he's also made some really bad plays. We're trying to get him to be consistent," Taggart said. "Bobby, you can tell he really understands the offense. He probably hasn't made as many plays as Matt, but he hasn't made as many bad plays as Matt. It's kind of been up and down, and every day, it's something different. One of them does something and (I think) 'I'm going to be OK.' Then 'Oh, man. Why would you do that?' That's the beauty of training camp. You get it all out of the way now."
Sophomore Steven Bench, a transfer from Penn State, was held out of Saturday's live drills after rolling his ankle in Friday's practice, though Taggart said he should be able to return to practice shortly. True freshman Mike White saw action during Saturday's open practice, along with redshirt freshman walk-on Tommy Eveld.
The Bulls scored two touchdowns in live practice -- Floyd scored on a scramble to his left, and walk-on Tommy Eveld threw a touchdown to walk-on tight end Spencer Adkinson.
Notables injured in Vero but in position to return by the opener: defensive end Julius Forte (Boca Ciega), who underwent minor knee surgery; safety Jalen Spencer (shoulder), receiver Chris Dunkley (ankle).
STEADY PROGRESS: Taggart said he was pleased by the overall level of learning during the eight days in Vero, saying he's encouraged by what the Bulls have been able to implement at the halfway point of preseason practice.
"This football team is really growing up. Everybody's been working hard, and every day, it's somebody different," Taggart said. "That's what's been gratifying for me and my coaching staff is that everybody's working hard. They're not taking a step back. Every day we took a step forward and had enthusiasm out here."
FAN FEST TODAY: The team's annual Fan Fest will be Sunday at Raymond James Stadium from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., with players and coaches available for photos and autographs. Team posters will be given away for signatures at the free event, and while fans can bring up to two "outside" items to be signed, all autographs will be personalized.
Taggart had fun with the fans in Vero for the team's only open practice there, calling a handful from the crowd to come into the huddle and read the play call to the offense. USF's players went down the line after practice, shaking hands and high-fiving fans to thank them for attending.
THIS AND THAT: Taggart has hinted at it for two weeks, but made it clear Saturday that true freshman cornerback Lamar Robbins, challenging for a starting role, will definitely play this fall. Defensive tackle Derrick Calloway is another strong candidate, safety Nate Godwin (Freedom) has a shot and was working with the No. 2 defense Saturday, and Taggart expects some combination of his freshman tailbacks (Darius Tice and Sta'fon McCray) and fullbacks (Northeast's Auggie Sanchez and Kennard Swanson) to play as well.