First it was redshirt sophomore Matt Floyd at quarterback for the Bulls. Then it was senior Bobby Eveld who took his place and now it’s USF head coach Willie Taggart?
“We put a petition to the NCAA this week and I think coach Taggart is going to play this week,” Taggart joked during his weekly press conference before naming sophomore Steven Bench as his quarterback going into Saturday’s game against No. 15 Miami.
The Penn State transfer is the most efficient quarterback out of the three that have started, with a rating of 83.5, just above Eveld’s 82.6, going 8-of-24 through the air for 128 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
After getting his most significant playing time
during USF’s loss in Week 3 to Florida Atlantic, Taggart got a good look at how his new
quarterback plays and he said he liked some of the things he saw.
“Steven gives us a really good chance to win ballgames and get some production from our offense,” Taggart said. “He can make things happen when they’re not there, when the pass rush comes in, he can make guys miss.”
From the offensive line to the receivers, “confidence” is the feeling that players, such as redshirt junior Quinterrius Eatmon and redshirt senior Derrick Hopkins, said they have in their new quarterback.
While Bench may prove to be a more solid fit behind center in his teammates and Taggart’s eyes, Taggart said he still could see where Bench needs to improve.
With a new coaching staff coming in for USF this season, a change in playbook and a new quarterback coming in from a different system, things can get lost in translation. However, Taggart said it’s important to use Bench wisely and get him playing within the system.
“He’s such a competitor that he tries to do too much and we don’t need him to do that,” Taggart said. “We don’t need him to be Tom Brady, we need him to be Steven Bench.”
Though it was Taggart’s decision and Bench has been working to learn his system, flexibility in his play calls doesn’t seem to be an issue, something that will more than likely be shown this weekend against the Hurricanes.
“It’s important that we run the plays he likes to run,” Taggart said. “He knows them like the back of his hand.”
In a quarterback, Taggart said he wants someone with consistent leadership and someone that “the team can rally behind.”
Bench will get the chance to prove whether or not he can do that on the national stage Saturday at noon where the game will be broadcast on ESPNU.
Ready or not, Miami is coming and Taggart doesn’t seem phased even with a new face leading the Bulls’ offense against a team back on the rise.
“They’re not a tropical storm anymore, they’re hurricanes,” Taggart said. “We’ll be ready for them. The Bay Area is built for hurricanes.”