Sophomore Matt Floyd offered up the pros and the cons for his case to be USF's starting quarterback in Saturday's spring game, hitting Andre Davis for two touchdowns but also fumbling four snaps, three of which the defense recovered.
Floyd's TD throws — including an 85-yarder on his first offensive play — sparked the White team's 14-11 victory over the Green before an announced crowd of 4,606 at Raymond James Stadium. But his struggles with exchanges carried over from last season.
"Matt threw some good balls in there," Bulls coach Willie Taggart said. "One area that was a concern was diminishing the fumbled snaps. Too many balls on the ground. Like I told him all spring, you put that ball on the ground, it takes away from all the good things you did. … Fumbled snap, defense recovered the ball. That will get you beat. We can't turn the football over."
Floyd said the exchanges are "something we will work on all summer long, for sure." He finished 9-for-16 for 208 yards and hit Davis on a 1-yard strike with nine seconds left in the first half.
Senior QB Bobby Eveld, who Taggart had said was "leading the pack" in spring, went 14-for-24 for 143 yards and an interception, and ran for a 1-yard touchdown with six seconds left. Taggart said Eveld played "not as well as I thought he would play," but the quarterback felt good about his progress.
"Turning the ball over, that's never acceptable, but other than that, I think I had a pretty decent day," said Eveld, who also caught a 10-yard pass. "I think overall our team made a ton of progress. I'm very happy with where we are, but at the same time, we've got a long way to go."
LB Hans Louis, pressed into a starting role because of an injury, had a game-high six tackles, with two for loss and a fumble recovery. Another seldom-used junior, DT Demi Thompson, had five tackles, with two for losses and a fumble recovery. … Walk-on P Mattias Ciabatti made his case to start, averaging 41.4 yards on seven punts. Freshman Emilio Nadelman averaged 34.2 on four. … LB Reshard Cliett had an interception, impressive considering USF had just two in 2012.
Where's the run?
Willie Taggart's offense has produced prolific running backs — four straight years with a 1,600-yard rusher — but with the offensive lines split between two squads, yards were hard to come by Saturday. The top two backs, Marcus Shaw and Mike Pierre, combined for 47 yards on 21 carries, with a long of 10 yards. Willie Davis rushed for 39 yards on 15 carries.
The Green squad had 10 flags for 99 yards, compared to three for 30 on the White squad. That included five false starts, two pass interferences and two personal fouls. Coach Willie Taggart wasn't pleased with DE Julius Forte getting a celebration penalty to negate a 10-yard sack but didn't seem to mind LB Hans Louis' flag for a hard hit on RB Willie Davis.
"Too many penalties. False starts. Penalties you can control," Taggart said. "It's just a lack of focus. We have to learn to play with fatigue. But these are things we can correct. I saw good things on both sides of the ball."