For many teams across the country, two capable quarterbacks must battle for a spot in the starting lineup on opening day. The Bulls, however, have the luxury of having two capable quarterbacks battle for the spot of backup quarterback.
Through spring and summer practices, junior Bobby Eveld and redshirt freshman Matt Floyd have traded blows, looking to seal the spot behind senior B.J. Daniels on the fall depth chart.
Though Eveld has played 13 games to Floyd’s zero, the redshirt freshman has done enough on the field to turn what could have been a simple formality into a full-fledged battle for the backup quarterback role.
“Both Matt and Bobby are about where I thought they’d be, even though Matt had a tough start cause of some drops early in the last scrimmage,” offensive coordinator Todd Fitch said. “Both are more comfortable than they were last year, and I think it was good for Matt to play against that number one defense and get that in game experience.”
With a dual-threat quarterback like B.J. Daniels in the starting role, the chance for injury is increased.
In 2010 and 2011, Daniels was injured in games against Miami, missing the next game and allowing Eveld to start. Because of this risk, Fitch says his backup needs to be ready at any time.
“I think both of them need to be ready to play, in case there’s an injury or something,” he said. “I’m just trying to get them both ready to play and see how it goes from there,” he said.
Senior running back Demetris Murray, who has seen both Floyd and Eveld from the playing field, said both the redshirt freshman and the former walk-on are ready to take on the backup role.
“They’ve both really come a long way,” Murray said. “I think what they’ve learned from coach Fitch in the meeting room is something that they’re bringing to the field as far as holding onto the ball and cutting down turnovers, which is something that comes from knowing the offense better.”
In a race that is admittedly neck-and-neck, neither Murray nor the team’s coaches have been able to select a winner as of yet. According to Murray, however, the play of Floyd has impressed him during spring and summer practices.
“Matt Floyd has really been throwing the ball great lately, and, again that is really about knowing the offense well and knowing where the receiver is going to be and making the right read,” Murray said.
Carrying the luxury of being unable to select which backup quarterback has performed better, coach Skip Holtz said he believes that the decision will have to be made on the strength of something very slight, with practice time running short.
“They’re still going back and forth, like they have been all summer,” Holtz said. “Matt has done some really good things and Bobby has done some really good things. I’ve said it earlier I think at the end, it will come down to one play, it’s so nip and tuck back and forth, that I think it’ll be just one play that makes the difference.”
Just days away from opening the season against Tennessee-Chattanooga, both Floyd and Eveld have refused to allow Holtz to select a better backup quarterback. So much so, in fact, that he may have to increase his standards.
“Both guys have progressed really well, and they’re both good enough to be a backup quarterback,” Holtz said. “But what they’re battling for right now is who could be ready to be a starter for this team.”