Coach Skip Holtz told his defense not to hold back when the team took the field Saturday at Raymond James Stadium for its annual Spring Game. He wanted to see how the Bulls’ passing attack would respond to pressure situations.
Success was minimal.
“It was pretty discouraging watching the passing game today,” Holtz said after the game. “Defensively, they ran every blitz known to man … but I thought just the way we executed the passing game was really poor today.”
On the first play of the scrimmage, quarterback Bobby Eveld launched a deep, catchable pass that was dropped by redshirt sophomore receiver Derrick Hopkins. Eveld was shaken up on the play after taking a shot to the jaw as he threw. Holtz isn’t sure of the extent of the injury, but he didn’t rule out the possibility of a broken jaw.
Eveld and quarterback B.J. Daniels combined to go 13-of-36 passing with a touchdown and two interceptions, with much of Daniels’ game action coming against the second-string defense. Though he found redshirt sophomore receiver Sterling Griffin on a slant pattern for the game’s first touchdown, Daniels had what Holtz considered his worst passing performance of the spring.
“There were some throws I definitely wish I could have taken back, mechanics-wise, those short, easy throws,” Daniels said.
Freshman quarterback Matt Floyd was the one bright spot in the passing game, going 20 for 34 for 233 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
Floyd graduated from Milton High in December to join the team early and effectively moved the ball despite participating in only 11 practices. The young quarterback impressed coaches against the first-string defense. He said he’s happy with his decision to join the team early.
“All my friends back home are getting ready for prom, getting their last-minute ACTs,” Floyd said. “It was a good thing for me to come in, get with the team and in with the team chemistry.”
Defense running well
Defensive coordinator Mark Snyder credited his unit for picking up its play in areas that needed improvement last week. The Bulls’ defense forced five turnovers and three sacks, including two by redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Luke Sager on consecutive plays.
“We had turnovers today, looked like we tackled a little bit better and we kept the ball inside our defense today,” Snyder said. “So that’s an improvement.”
Despite dropping the first long pass of the scrimmage, Hopkins caught a 70-yard pass from Floyd and sprinted for a touchdown. Daniels said the team refers to him as “the fastest man in the Big East,” a title he earned by winning Big East indoor track titles in the 60-meter dash and 200-meter dash in February.
Redshirt junior running back Darrell Scott left the game with a pulled muscle in his leg, an injury that will cause him to miss the Green and Gold Bowl, the team’s final spring scrimmage, which will be played at the USF Track & Field Stadium on Saturday at 5 p.m.