Matt Floyd: Off-field iron man
After losing starting role, sophomore quarterback Floyd continues involvement on and off field
Published: Thursday, December 5, 2013
Updated: Friday, December 6, 2013 12:12
Redshirt sophomore quarterback Matt Floyd may have said it best when he said no one can be harder on a player than the player himself.
From Week 1, Floyd gave himself plenty reason to do just that.
After being voted team captain by his teammates a week before the season opener hosting McNeese State, Floyd won the quarterback battle and lost it soon after. Down 26-7 to the Mustangs on the closing drive before halftime, the first-time starter threw an interception returned for a touchdown.
On the opening drive of the third quarter, Floyd’s next pass of the game, another interception, was thrown, subsequently allowing McNeese’s offense to score and make the deficit even larger.
That would be the last time of the season the No. 11 jersey would be behind center on game day.
His 9-of-20 performance with two picks and no touchdowns followed a season in which he played in seven games and started in two, replacing an injured B.J. Daniels. Like 2013, 2012 featured no scores for Floyd but rather five interceptions.
Floyd said he was frustrated.
But he couldn’t let the team know.
“I can’t wear that on my sleeve,” he said. “I still had to be upbeat and happy. I had to do what’s best for the team. I have to put the team ahead of myself.”
Though his role as a starter in the season opener has since been reduced to the third or fourth option at the position behind freshman Mike White, sophomore Steven Bench and senior Bobby Eveld, Floyd’s role as a captain hasn’t diminished.
In every game this season, starter or not, Floyd has walked on the field for the coin toss. Just as he was before the season started, Floyd remained a team captain.
“From that point on I became the leader still that I am,” he said. “I’ve never been a vocal leader. That’s not me at all, and I don’t get to be that playing leader either, but the way I really channeled myself this year is that I got to know people better on the team because in the past, we were a bunch of cliques and didn’t really work together. I’ve gotten a lot closer with the guys, more so than in the past, and now we’re like best friends and brothers.”
Since USF coach Willie Taggart and his new staff signed onto the Bulls, a major focus has been team chemistry and eliminating the “cliques” from prior seasons, something quarterbacks coach Nick Sheridan said is likely the reason Floyd was voted a captain by the team.
“They respect him, what he stood for and what he’s all about,” Sheridan said. “He’s been doing a great job.”
While going from under center to behind the coach on the sideline would diminish the motivation of some, Sheridan added that isn’t the case for Floyd.
“I don’t think he’s changed his mentality at all, and I think that speaks to his leadership,” Sheridan said. “Regardless of the circumstance, he’s had a great attitude and has been very positive around the building. That’s what makes him a good leader.”
As a team leader, having spent time individually with players and having a whole season to evaluate the new staff, the freshmen and the reaction to being in a new conference, Floyd said the team that stepped into Raymond James Stadium and lost to McNeese State in Week 1 has changed drastically.
“I think we are night and day different than what we were in the first game of the season and spring,” he said. “I feel like we’re coming together more and playing together as a team. We’re playing with more heart as you can see in the UCF game where they counted us way out of it and we took it to the last minute. I think the thing with this team is that we never give up, no matter what anyone says.”
But what Floyd has managed to do, as backup to an injured quarterback last season and as team captain this season, can hardly be measured in the locker room or practice fields.
When Floyd isn’t with his team or in the classroom, the quarterback is working on something more.
Since last fall, Floyd has been the vice president of the Order of the Golden Brahman, member of the USF National Hazing Prevention board, involved himself with USF’s Hillel (the Jewish student center) and has become very involved with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).
His strong interest in politics, hopes at working in the state department and passion for Christianity is where his interest in Israel stems from saying that the country is a big ally to the United States both economically and militarily.
“We spend so much time together as athletes that sometimes we aren’t really integrated with other students,” Floyd said. “It’s a good opportunity to know other people.”