VERO BEACH — Sophomore G Thor Jozwiak, in position to start for USF, was held out of both practices Sunday while doctors checked on his heart. But coach Willie Taggart is optimistic he won't be sidelined long.
"Thor has some skips in his heartbeat," Taggart said before the morning practice. "We wanted to get that tested. Hopefully, we can get him back out here (today)."
Jozwiak, who started five games last season, is in a tight competition among four guards for the two starting positions. Sophomore Brynjar Gudmundsson and senior Lawrence Martin worked with the first team Sunday. Senior Steven Jacques also has worked with the first unit line during the opening week of practice.
PROMOTED: Sophomore Mattias Ciabatti, expected to be the starting punter, has been placed on scholarship.
"We didn't give it to him. He earned it," Taggart said. "He's been doing a really good job. He came out and really launched a couple of balls the other day. I think he's going to be very significant this year."
Ciabatti, from Hillsborough High, was named to the Big East All-Academic team last fall. He had one punt as a freshman, for 43 yards in the 2012 opener against Chattanooga. He also is likely to hold on extra points and field goals.
TICKET UPDATE: A year after a high-profile home game with Florida State helped season-ticket sales, USF hasn't seen any significant drop-off for Taggart's first season. Sales are down about 1 percent from last year.
USF had sold and distributed 21,409 season tickets for 2013 as of Saturday, just short of the 21,639 it reported Aug. 7 of last season. The 2012 total included 3,250 tickets reserved for staff, trade and other in-house use, and a comparable number is likely for this season.
VETERANS LEADING: Taggart said returning QBs Bobby Eveld and Matt Floyd still have an edge on newcomers Steven Bench and Mike White in the battle for the starting job.
"You can tell that Bobby and Matt have been exposed to the offense. They understand what we're doing a lot better than Mike and Steven," Taggart said. "When Steven and Mike know exactly what to do, you should see where they can be really effective. It's just a matter of learning the system and how fast they can learn the system and not be afraid to make mistakes here early."
Greg Auman can be reached at [email protected]