From the first snap to the final whistle, there’s no question the quarterback is one of the most important positions on the football field.
If the team wins, he is usually praised. A loss, and he usually takes the blame. The quarterback is usually credited as being smart, tough and a leader. It’s arguably one of the toughest positions in sports.
For USF that job and burden has been up for grabs since B.J. Daniels left last season.
After Coach Willie Taggart was able to see the Bulls in action at Raymond James Stadium for the first time in their Green Machine spring game, the race to take snaps is neck-and-neck between redshirt sophomore Matt Floyd and senior Bobby Eveld.
Fans have heard since the start of Taggart’s career at USF that the depth chart is a blank slate and no one is a favorite in the quarterback battle.
Even after the spring game, when coaches typically get an idea of who has made improvements and who hasn’t, Taggart said the battle has still not been won.
But what is it that makes Eveld and Floyd so even?
With both quarterbacks leading their respective teams in the spring game, it’s clear that until freshman Mike White comes in, it will be a two-man race.
At 6-foot-1 and 202 pounds, Floyd stands as the shorter, stockier quarterback of the two. With Daniels and Eveld both out with injuries last season, it was up to him to take charge of the Bulls.
In the seven games he saw action in, two of which he started, Floyd didn’t exactly shine.
His completion percentage was just above 50 percent, and with no touchdowns, he threw five interceptions. He wasn’t much better on the ground, despite the athleticism he was known for in high school, having had 18 attempts rushing the ball with -12 yards to show for it.
With no touchdowns for the redshirt, it’s hard to point out the positives. Many fans can think back on the home game against Florida State, perhaps the most anticipated game of the season, when USF actually had its chances to take away the game.
Many fans may also think back to when Floyd lined up under center, dropped back, scrambled and fumbled the ball near the end zone, which eventually led to the Seminoles putting points up on the board. While that wasn’t the contributing factor to the loss, it certainly didn’t help.
Even in the last game of the season against Pittsburgh, Floyd threw for three picks and no touchdowns, while also giving up a fumble.
Though the 2012 season wasn’t a highlight reel for Floyd, his role as a starter wasn’t expected.
Floyd wasn’t the named No. 2 guy for the Bulls, Eveld was. So with both Daniels and Eveld both out last season, Floyd was essentially thrown in the center prematurely — some may argue too soon.
He said multiple times that it was a “learning experience,” and with his performance in the spring game, it certainly seems as if he took it that way.
Connecting on two touchdowns to receiver junior Andre Davis and completing nine of his 16 passing attempts, Floyd threw for more than 200 yards. Though he proved he could put points up for USF unlike last year, Floyd also fumbled four snaps, three of which the defense recovered.
Taggart, who has stressed holding on to the ball and not repeating mistakes, was less than pleased with that aspect of Floyd’s game, though there were bright spots.
Eveld, the tall, lean quarterback, known more as a pocket passer, hasn’t been given the chance to shine yet. Backing up Daniels, Eveld has played in 13 games total and started in just three.
In his three years as a Bull, he’s racked up three touchdowns and seven interceptions — two of those touchdowns and three of those picks came in his first year.
The senior only started and played in a single game last season, which doesn’t give much for Taggart to work off of. A lot can change in a year, but it’s unclear what Eveld changed.
Based off the spring game, Eveld still didn’t show a lot. He proved to be accurate, as many suspected given his height in the pocket at 6-foot-5, completing 14 of 24 passes for 143 yards.
While he didn’t turn the ball over, which Taggart must have enjoyed, he had no touchdowns through the air to show for it, leaving Taggart feeling as if Eveld played less than what was expected of him. This is despite his 1-yard rushing touchdown with six seconds left in the game.
In a game that ended with Eveld’s Green team down three points, at least one touchdown for him would have clearly made a difference. However, not having Davis on the receiving end certainly hurt those chances at scoring for Eveld.
So why, after USF’s 14 spring practices, is the battle at quarterback still without somewhat of a winner?
From the spring game, the answer is clear.
Had it not been for Floyd’s fumbles, he may very well be winning this race. If Eveld showed a little more through the air with a touchdown or two, perhaps he would be closer to lining up under the center come fall.
The position’s importance goes without saying and Taggart’s decision will be sure to reflect that.