TAMPA — Earning USF's starting quarterback job from coach Willie Taggart was something Matt Floyd had worked for since the end of last season, but the news he got from his team Saturday night was just as encouraging.
"It gives me a lot of confidence to see Coach Taggart trusts me to take this position, but even more than that though was the fact that I was voted a team captain," Floyd said before Tuesday's practice. "I didn't expect that to happen at all. To have that honor voted by the players and my teammates was really cool. That instilled a lot of confidence in me."
The sophomore from Milton is still seeking his first college touchdown — he didn't have any in 110 pass attempts last year, stepping in after injuries to B.J. Daniels and Bobby Eveld. What he does have is the trust of his coaches, who in the past four days have talked about how much he has improved since the spring, emerging as a leader.
"Very even-keeled, has a good demeanor, doesn't get rattled easy, fun to be around, easy to coach," was the scouting report Tuesday from quarterbacks coach Nick Sheridan, himself a college quarterback just four years ago.
Floyd's legs give him a threat to run or pass, and Taggart said he likes his quarterbacks to be able to pick up at least two first downs a game on running plays.
To that end, Floyd is also learning from another former college quarterback — Taggart, who continues to show an impressive field vision as a coach, passing along his read of a defense to his young passer.
"He knows what it's like to be back there," Floyd said. "A lot of times, I'll drop back and make a pass and think it's a good read, but then I'll go back to (Taggart) and he'll go, "That was a good ball, good pass, good read, everything, but this guy was even more wide-open. The guy is very, very smart. ... To come up with the things that he does, sometimes I'm, 'Wow, where the heck did you come up with that from?' "
Saturday's opener against I-AA McNeese State should be an introduction to the new Floyd, with a new, complex offense to show he can run and a new identity to establish with fans. That will get tested quickly, as his second game this year is at Michigan State, against an elite defense and a team some have ranked in the top 25.
THIS AND THAT: USF women's soccer's Christiane Endler has the honor of being the American Athletic Conference's first Goalkeeper of the Week, having held Texas to one goal in 110 minutes in Sunday's 1-1 draw in Austin. ... Volleyball opens its season at 3 Friday afternoon at home against Miami, and Courtney Draper's team is loaded with newcomers — seven freshmen and two transfers in middle blockers Jennica Mullins (Winthrop) and Carissa Whalen (North Dakota State). ... Men's soccer opens its season Friday night at home against Florida Gulf Coast. Keep an eye on forward Edwin Moalosi, who had two goals in Saturday's exhibition win against the University of Tampa, which kept the "Rowdies Cup" in the Bulls' possession.
Greg Auman can be reached at (813) 226-3346 and at email@example.com. Check out his blog at tampabay.com/blogs/bulls and follow him on Twitter at @gregauman.