TAMPA — As ineffective as USF's offense was throughout Saturday's 6-3 loss to Miami, the prospect of more games without starting quarterback B.J. Daniels isn't a pretty one, given the offense's play in five series with backup Bobby Eveld.
The Bulls struggled to move the ball with consistency after Daniels injured his throwing shoulder on the second drive of the second half, totaling 75 yards on 17 plays and never threatening to break a 3-3 stalemate.
"Obviously it didn't come out the way we wanted it to. That one hurts a lot," said Eveld, a sophomore from Jesuit High who hadn't played since September. "I felt prepared. I didn't get too nervous when I went in there, so that was good. … I did miss a couple of reads. I don't think it had to do with comfort (level). It was just a couple of looks I hadn't seen."
USF had no information on the severity of Daniels' injury — he tried to throw on the sideline after going down on a scramble, grimacing in pain as he threw — but the Bulls have a short turnaround before playing host to Louisville on Friday morning.
"That's always something that can really hurt your team when your starting quarterback goes down. I think the whole team may have flinched for a second, because he's really putting up some great numbers this year and doing a great job protecting the football," Eveld said.
Eveld went 5-for-9 for 36 yards, but the Bulls went 0-for-5 on third downs with him running the offense, and eventually, Miami's offense clicked in the final six minutes, driving 61 yards for the winning field goal as time expired.
Because the offense couldn't stay on the field for sustained drives — Eveld's longest was 2 minutes, 17 seconds — the defense couldn't get off the field. Miami held a huge edge in time of possession in the second half (19:55 to USF's 10:05). After forcing three consecutive three and outs, USF's defense couldn't stop Miami on three straight third downs on the final drive.
Coach Skip Holtz had expressed concerns about his quarterback depth early in the year, when Eveld struggled in mop-up duty in September, throwing an interception late against Ball State and two in relief against I-AA Florida A&M.
Holtz also made it clear that the offensive blame shouldn't rest squarely on Eveld, that other players contributed to the struggles. The Bulls' best chance under Eveld saw them at the Miami 39, and he connected on a screen pass to Victor Marc to the 23, only to see that negated by a motion penalty. On USF's next-to-last play, freshman Andre Davis dropped a screen pass that looked like an easy first down.
"We convert one first down and we jump offsides, we have another that looks like a sure thing and we drop the ball," Holtz said. "It's not just on Bobby. There were a lot of people that had the opportunity to pick up the slack, and we weren't able to get it done."