Its a question that USF coach Skip Holtz said hes been asked a lot: What do you play for, when a bowl game is no longer in contention and youve lost seven out of 10 games, the last by more than 30 points?
Though Holtz said it was unchartered waters for him, he said there still is plenty to play for.
We have the opportunity to represent this university, he said. There have been a lot of players who have worn this jersey before us, and there will be a lot of players who wear this jersey after us. There are other intangibles for a football player things like loyalty, and character and discipline and dignity and what were fighting for right now for this university.
But what could be the new rallying cry for the Bulls, Holtz said, is redshirt freshman Matt Floyd.
Floyd, who went 20-for-35 for 175 yards and threw two interceptions in Saturdays game against Miami, will start Fridays game in Cincinnati after junior Bobby Eveld, who replaced the injured senior quarterback B.J. Daniels, injured his shoulder Saturday, burning his redshirt for the season.
I like (Floyds) poise and the headiness, Holtz said. I like the composure he shows and the way he handles himself. Hes a gutsy performer. I dont think we did a lot to help him (during Saturdays game).
Offensive coordinator Todd Fitch, who has been working with Floyd and tight end senior Evan Landi, who began his USF career as a quarterback and is now doing reps in case of an emergency situation, said he thinks Floyd brings a special knack to the position.
I sat down and asked him, What do you want to do? Forget football, but what do you want to do? Fitch said. His familys a military background and he wants to maybe go into the forces, maybe special forces. Hes very into politics. Hes a unique kid when you get to know him on a personal level. Its fun … because you can ask him more thoughtful questions. … Hes a pretty smart guy. He can process information fast and make quick decisions, and thats key to a quarterback.
Fitch said Floyds performance in his three quarters of play in Saturdays game was impressive.
Once we got through that little patch there in the second quarter, as you go back and watch the tape, he really had great poise and a presence about himself in the pocket. He stood in there and made some throws that we liked, Fitch said.
Fitch said Landi, who has mostly played as a receiver and has scored 22 touchdowns during his 37-game career, is versatile enough to handle the situation.
He knows the tight end well enough, Fitch said. Hes done some good receptions and actually done a nice job. He can play receiver, can play quarterback and play tight end.
But Holtz said the Bulls would have to pick up on both receiving and defense before they fly to Cincinnati.
On multiple occasions in Saturdays game, there were way too many unchallenged deep balls from Miami, he said, where no one was ready to intercept.
The one that discourages me, the one that frustrates me, the one I dont think we can tolerate as coaches or players, are the ones where they throw the ball and theres nobody there, he said. It was like throwing on air. … Its inexcusable.
Holtz was also full of praise for Cincinnati players, who he said he expects to be extremely motivated and
excited to play us.
The Bulls leave for Cincinnati on Thursday and will kick off at 7 p.m. on a day where the high temperature is expected to be 51 degrees and the low is expected to be 28 degrees.
Holtz said he hopes to see no scarves.