NCF Nation: Bobby Eveld

South Florida season preview

August, 15, 2013
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South Florida Bulls

Coach: Willie Taggart

2012 record: (16-20 career)

Key losses: QB B.J. Daniels, RB Demetri Murray, LB Sam Barrington

Key returnees: LB DeDe Lattimore, WR Andre Davis, DT Luke Sager

Newcomer to watch: TE Sean Price

Biggest games in 2013: at Michigan State (Sept. 7), Miami (Sept. 28)

[+] EnlargeWillie Taggart
AP Photo/The Tampa Bay Times, Daniel WallaceOne of the top priorities for first-year USF coach Willie Taggart: finding the right fit at quarterback heading into the season opener.
Biggest question mark heading into 2013: South Florida is the only American Athletic team that doesn’t return its quarterback from last season. Under Taggart’s new reign, the Bulls will look to Bobby Eveld, Matt Floyd, incoming freshman Mike White or Steven Bench -- a Penn State transfer. Taggart has been mum on who’s leading the quarterback race thus far, telling the quarterbacks he won’t make his decision until later in training camp. Having lost the three top rushers from last season, the Bulls are looking for an identity on offense under Taggart and the quarterback that will lead the young unit.

Forecast: While many teams in the American Athletic boast a powerful offense with a rebuilding defense, South Florida has the opposite. In Taggart’s first year, the Bulls have two senior defensive ends with Ryne Giddins and Aaron Lynch. Lattimore was third on the team last year with 76 tackles and is on the preseason watch list for the Butkus Award, and USF returns both of its starting safeties. In contrast, the Bulls have just three returning offensive players who started at least half of USF’s games last year. Taggart will set the tone offensively, having four quarterbacks to choose from for the starting role. The most established player will be Davis, who tallied six touchdowns on 534 receiving yards.

With some of USF’s players on their third coach with Taggart, he said one of the challenges has been getting players to buy into his training regimen and his system. With a schedule that has the Bulls traveling to Michigan State in the second week of the season, then hosting the Hurricanes in the same month of September, USF needs to find its chemistry sooner rather than later if it wants to capitalize on its challenging schedule.

“If we're going to be big time like I say we are, we got to play big-time people,” Taggart said. “And we have great opportunities this year to do it.”

In the preseason media poll, the Bulls were picked to finish fifth in the conference, just behind in-state rival UCF. Taggart took Western Kentucky from a 20-game losing streak to the school’s first bowl appearance, and he wants to build the program at USF in similar fashion.

“We're a program that really hadn't lived up to our potential,” Taggart said. “But it's on us. And a big reason why I'm the head coach there now is to try to get our guys to live up to the potential.”
Memphis

Spring Start: Feb. 28

Spring game: April 6

What to watch:
  1. Quarterback: Jacob Karam returns as the starter after throwing for 1,895 yards, 14 touchdowns and three interceptions. But coach Justin Fuente says Karam will be pushed during the spring and has to win the starting job all over again.
  2. Bump up the physicality: Fuente has said repeatedly that he wants to see his team be more physical, especially now that it is joining the Big East. The spring is the perfect chance to improve in this area. "We will play some of the same teams we played last year, but they will be the bigger, more physical teams we played last year," he said. "We have to understand that we have a lot of ground to make up. That is not ground that is made up easily."
  3. Competition at defensive back: The Tigers lose two starters from their defensive backfield -- Cannon Smith and Robert Steeples -- and Fuente is excited about the competition at this position going into the spring.
Rutgers

Spring Start: March 26

Spring game: April 27

What to watch:
  1. Quarterback: Even though coach Kyle Flood says Gary Nova is his starter, you can bet there is going to be competition at this position going into the spring, especially with a new offensive coordinator in Ron Prince. That doesn't mean there will be changes, but certainly Prince is going to want to take a look at all the players he has available to evaluate what they can or cannot do.
  2. Defensive leaders: Rutgers lost its top defensive playmakers and needs to find guys who can step in for Scott Vallone, Khaseem Greene, Steve Beauharnais and Logan Ryan, to name four. Plus, there is a new coordinator in Dave Cohen, so there might be some adjustment period.
  3. Huggins stepping up: The time is now for the highly heralded local recruit to live up to the expectations that came with him when he arrived on campus. Jawan Jamison is gone off to the NFL, so all eyes have turned to Huggins to see if he has what it takes to be the next 1,000-yard rusher.
SMU

Spring Start: March 25

Spring game: April 20

What to watch:
  1. Replacing Zach Line: The Mustangs have to replace their top runner over the past several seasons in Line, who had three straight 1,000-yard seasons. Leading the charge this spring are junior college All-American Traylon Shead and reserve back Rishaad Wimbley, who switched from defense a few seasons ago.
  2. New defensive starters: The Mustangs lost the bulk of their playmakers on defense in Margus Hunt and linebackers Taylor Reed and Ja'Gared Davis. Finding guys to step up without them is a huge priority. Watch for Zach Wood at defensive end in place of Hunt; and Kevin Pope and Robert Seals at linebacker.
  3. More consistency at QB: June Jones' offense runs best when the quarterback is at his best. Garrett Gilbert returns as the starter, but he is going to need to find much more consistency this spring and into the fall. Two numbers that have to be improved: accuracy (53 percent in 2012) and touchdown-to-interception ratio (15-to-15 in 2012).
USF

Spring Start: March 20

Spring game: April 13

What to watch:
  1. New coaches, new style: Coach Willie Taggart has promised to ratchet up the intensity and transform his team into more of a smash-mouth group. That process begins in the spring, when he has his first opportunity to really show his players what he expects out of them. You can bet he expects a lot more physicality from his offensive and defensive lines to start.
  2. Quarterback competition: Who will emerge as the starter? Will we even know after the spring? Matt Floyd and Bobby Eveld, the top two candidates, have plenty of work to do as they fight to win the starting job. But this competition could very well go into the fall, when freshman Mike White arrives on campus.
  3. Defensive back improvement: This was the worst group the Bulls had a year ago and the one in most need of immediate improvement. USF registered two interceptions in 2012, tied with Auburn for the fewest among all 120 schools in the nation. And they both came in the same game -- against UConn on Nov. 3.
Temple

Spring Start: March 22

Spring game: April 20

What to watch:
  1. New staff: Matt Rhule certainly has a familiarity with Temple, having served as an assistant there under both Al Golden and Steve Addazio. But anytime a new coach comes in, there is change, so the spring gives him his first chance to really start implementing his style and what he wants to get accomplished.
  2. Quarterbacks: You can bet this competition is going to be open this spring, with Chris Coyer, Juice Granger and Kevin Newsome all returning. Coyer and Granger both started a year ago; Newsome transferred in from Penn State a few years ago. How this shakes out is one major story to watch.
  3. Running backs: Montel Harris and Matt Brown are gone, taking with them 1,426 yards rushing and 16 of the team's 21 rushing touchdowns. Jamie Gilmore got more carries as the season went on when Brown was hurt; Kenny Harper also is back and certainly will be relied upon even more.

Another new-look spring for Big East

February, 27, 2013
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For the second straight spring, Extreme Makeover: Big East edition has gripped the conference.

Four teams enter practice with an eye toward their first Big East season. Two teams enter spring practice wondering if 2013 is their final Big East season.

The mix makes for quite the dysfunctional pairing, and most likely the only configuration featuring remaining members Cincinnati, UConn, USF and Temple, incoming members UCF, Houston, Memphis and SMU and departing members Louisville and Rutgers playing under the same conference umbrella.

Got all that?

What must be most especially difficult for the league this spring is marketing and promoting what should be a preseason top-10 team -- Louisville -- knowing the Cardinals are not long for the Big East world. It was the same scenario that unfolded back in 2011, when West Virginia represented the Big East as its highest-rated Top 25 team and Orange Bowl participant, with a move to the Big 12 just months away.

[+] EnlargeTeddy Bridgewater
Cal Sport Media via AP ImagesThere are many question marks at QB in the Big East this spring. Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater is certainly not among them.
Given all the conference realignment, this is certainly not uncharted territory. But it certainly takes the luster off what should be downright euphoria over having one of the projected marquee teams in all the nation in 2013. Along with that conundrum is the idea that the Big East cannot begin to rebrand itself while it continues to have a hodgepodge of teams with one foot in the door and one foot out.

None of this is new, but it certainly is more than a little uncomfortable. Having said that, Louisville remains the biggest story to watch this spring and into the fall because of the opportunity the Cardinals have in front of them. Not only do they return nearly all of their key starters from the Sugar Bowl-winning team of a season ago, they return soon-to-be junior quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, already a preseason Heisman candidate.

Last spring, he was incredible, completing 70 percent of his passes in a near-flawless performance. That translated into a super sophomore season that not only has people talking Heisman now, it also has them talking about whether this is his final spring in a Cardinals uniform. Another solid spring showing from him, and Louisville should cement its standing as the preseason favorite to win the Big East, with an outside shot as a dark horse national title contender.

Louisville, however, is only one of a handful of Big East schools with quarterback certainty. UCF returns Blake Bortles, who had a 3,000-yard season in 2012 as the Knights went 10-4 in their final year in Conference USA. He is perhaps the next-best quarterback in the league, although that is probably up for debate, as Cincinnati returns Brendon Kay.

But Kay is going to face some competition this spring, with new coach Tommy Tuberville taking charge. He is not the only incumbent who is sure to be pushed. At Rutgers, coach Kyle Flood says Gary Nova remains the starter, but new offensive coordinator Ron Prince is certainly going to want to see what all his signal-callers have to offer. At Memphis, Jacob Karam must win his starting job again. At SMU, Garrett Gilbert needs to work on his consistency. So does UConn quarterback Chandler Whitmer, who is going to see some competition for his job as well.

At Houston, David Piland is in for a fight for his spot. USF and Temple need starters, too. The Bulls lose veteran B.J. Daniels and return Matt Floyd and Bobby Eveld. The Owls rotated between Chris Coyer and Clinton Granger last season, but Penn State transfer Kevin Newsome could figure into the mix as well with new coach Matt Rhule taking charge.

The quarterback position in the Big East represents the league as a whole: plenty of uncertainty this spring.
One of the more intriguing quarterback competitions in the Big East this spring is in Tampa, where USF has to find a replacement for long-time starter B.J. Daniels.

Bobby Eveld and Matt Floyd return as the only two players on the roster with game experience. Eveld served as the backup in 2010 and 2011; Floyd served as the primary backup in 2012, though both quarterbacks played after Daniels broke his leg late last season. Eveld beat Floyd out to start the Miami game, but ended up hurting his shoulder, burning his redshirt in one of the more questionable decisions former coach Skip Holtz made last season.

[+] EnlargeMatt Floyd
Steve Mitchell/US PresswireIn limited duty last season, Matt Floyd completed 57 of 110 passes for 466 yards, no TDs and five INTs.
Eveld has been full-go since January so he will be ready when spring practice opens March 20. The Bulls also have Bobby's brother, Tommy, and Trenton Miller on the roster this spring. Both were walk-ons last year. Then in the fall, three-star quarterback Mike White out of Fort Lauderdale joins the mix. White was the 3A Florida Player of the Year as a senior, throwing 22 touchdown passes and just two interceptions.

I had a chance to catch up with new quarterbacks coach/passing game coordinator Nick Sheridan on Thursday to ask him how he sees the competition playing out, and where White will fit once he arrives on campus. Here is what he had to say.

What has your evaluation been of Bobby and Matt?

Nick Sheridan: For Bobby and Matt and the other two quarterbacks here, Tommy Eveld and Trenton Miller, they've been wonderful from an attitude and effort standpoint. They've been off the charts, done everything we’ve asked. They’re good students, good leaders. I've been really pleased with their attitude. I feel good about where we’re at. It will be open competition and we'll try to develop them to become the best players they can be.

Do you hope for some separation this spring so you can name a starter as you go into the offseason or do you think the competition may last into the fall?

NS: I don't hope for any of that stuff. I just hope our players become the best players they can be. Wherever that takes us, if they both develop and they're both playing well, they'll continue to compete. We're certainly not hopeful that one guy does a really good job and the other one kind of struggles. We hope that everybody that's on our roster becomes the best they can possibly be and that's no different for the quarterbacks.

When Mike arrives will he be thrown into the mix with a chance to start?

NS: Yes. We're going to play the best player. If Mike comes in here and he's the best quarterback, he'll play. It's obviously a challenge as a true freshman quarterback to do those things but we're not going to limit him or label him until he comes and shows us what type of player he can be. We're really excited to work with him.

In watching Bobby and Matt, what areas are you going to be working with them so they can get better in the spring?

NS: The one thing about the quarterback position is you've never arrived so there's no areas where you feel like I've got that down pat. You're always constantly improving in all aspects. The biggest thing for both of those guys would be to teach them our system and the different things that we think are important for us to move the ball and score points. That would be where our major focus will be.

What to watch in the Big East: Week 13

November, 21, 2012
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All eight teams are in action this weekend. Enjoy the leftovers while watching.

1. Does Alec Lemon keep it going? The Syracuse wideout has been unstoppable the past five games, hauling in 41 receptions for 727 yards, including his 244-yard output Saturday, when he clinched the final-seconds victory at Missouri with the winning touchdown catch. Not coincidentally, the Orange are 4-1 in their past five games.

2. A family affair on Black Friday: Temple coach Steve Addazio won't get to spend Thanksgiving dinner with his son Louie, an injured Syracuse tight end. Steve joked that the two wouldn't talk much this week. And while not having to devise a game plan for dealing with his son might take away some of the awkwardness, how they interact during Friday's matchup could be fun.

[+] EnlargeMatt Floyd
Steve Mitchell/US PresswireSouth Florida is down to third-string quarterback Matt Floyd for its visit to Cincinnati.
3. Your turn, Matt: South Florida really has nowhere else to turn now. B.J. Daniels and Bobby Eveld are out for the season, and in steps Matt Floyd, who doesn't have much to lose as his 3-7 Bulls visit a Cincinnati team coming off a tough home loss a week earlier.

4. Cincinnati's offensive response: Coach Butch Jones said his team's three-point showing in a home loss to Rutgers was unacceptable. Brendon Kay looks like he'll start a third consecutive game under center after hurting his non-throwing elbow, and he'll have a chance to pick apart one of the worst passing defenses in the country.

5. UConn looks to keep it going: The Huskies have had a week to relish their 24-point explosion (by their standards) in a win over Pitt on Nov. 10. The task is considerably harder at Louisville, and this matchup is all the more interesting given the recent bickering over which school is more attractive to potential suitors from other conferences. (Though this contest will have absolutely nothing to do with whatever happens.)

6. What's UL do on the ground? Louisville has had two weeks to recover from its first loss of the season, but we'll find out Saturday if the Cardinals have an answer in the backfield after losing Senorise Perry for the season. Jeremy Wright (680 rushing yards, nine touchdowns) will look to fill the big shoes.

7. Rutgers has a game this weekend: A pretty big one, too. Amidst all the off-the-field news that's accompanied the Scarlet Knights' move to the Big Ten, the team has a chance to clinch at least a share of the Big East title this weekend at Pitt. Remember, the Big East?

8. Does Pitt play up to its opponent? The Panthers stand in the way. They were a few bad breaks away from ruining Notre Dame's perfect season three weeks ago, and now they face the conference's first-place team while needing to win out to extend their season to a bowl game. It will also be interesting to see Ray Graham face his brother Khaseem Greene, as the two are among the conference's best players this season.

Big East weekend rewind: Week 12

November, 19, 2012
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Here's one last look back at another fun Saturday in the Big East.

[+] EnlargeMontel Harris
Danny Wild/US PresswireRunning back Montel Harris set Big East records with his historic performance against Army.
The good: Rutgers remains in control of the Big East race after winning at Cincinnati. Temple snapped a four-game losing streak behind a historic effort from Montel Harris. And Syracuse is going bowling for the second time in three years after a last-second win at Missouri.

The bad: Cincinnati was facing a great defense, but putting up three points at home is underwhelming. And what else can we really say about South Florida that hasn't been said already?

The ugly: OK, only two Big East teams lost Saturday, so the worst of the bunch goes here. USF lost 40-9 to Miami, meaning the Bulls will stay home for the second-straight bowl season. What's more, they burned Bobby Eveld's redshirt in the 10th game of the season … and he got knocked out of the game in the first quarter with a sprained shoulder. Bad times in Tampa right now.

The carousel continues: One of the better wins in Rutgers' recent history got overshadowed after another wave of conference realignment chatter made the rounds, this time pegging the Scarlet Knights as potentially Big Ten-bound. Just another Saturday in college athletics.

The workhorse: Kyle Flood has said he doesn't look at clocks; the job is over when it's complete. His players have taken on that mentality this season, perhaps none more than Savon Huggins two days ago. Stepping in for a limited Jawan Jamison, the sophomore carried the ball 41 times for 179 yards. The 41 carries matched Jamison's school record from Week 3 this season. Not bad for a "backup."

We talkin' bout practice: Harris did not practice last week because of a knee injury. He has accomplished quite a bit in his five years of college ball, but never had he rushed for 351 yards and seven touchdowns in a game -- and never had anyone in the Big East, either. Coach Steve Addazio said last week that he challenged his seniors to make the most of their final two weeks of college ball. Not a bad answer from Harris.

Four in postseason, more to come? The Orange's dramatic win at Missouri made them the fourth Big East team to clinch bowl-eligibility, saving the conference from the possible embarrassment of having just three bowl-eligible teams. UConn and Pitt have chances too, if they win out, but the odds are stacked against them with Louisville and Rutgers awaiting each this week, respectively.
What did we learn in the Big East in Week 12? Glad you asked.

1. Stability? What? Just when you thought it was safe to dream (and/or incorrectly speculate) about stability in college football … wham! Realignment became a hot topic once again on another college football Saturday. Sources told ESPN that Maryland is in talks with the Big Ten about jumping from the ACC. If that happens, Rutgers is expected to follow. And where would the ACC look to fill its opening? You can guess. Nothing official has been announced. But if something does happen, Rutgers would be the ninth Big East school to leave the conference since 2004. Stay tuned. This should be an interesting week.

2. Big East title should be settled in New Jersey. Rutgers had quite the impressive defensive performance in a 10-3 win over Cincinnati, all but assuring us of a de facto Big East championship game in Piscataway on Thursday, Nov. 29. This is precisely why the Big East made the schedule this way. No. 22 Rutgers remains the only unbeaten team in Big East play at 5-0. Even if the Scarlet Knights lose at Pitt next week, they would still have a winner-take-BCS matchup on their hands against Louisville -- provided the Cardinals come off their bye and beat UConn. Even if both Rutgers and Louisville go into the regular-season finale with matching 5-1 league marks, the winner goes to the BCS.

[+] EnlargeTemple's Montel Harris
AP Photo/Mike GrollTemple's Montel Harris rushed for 351 yards and seven touchdowns on 36 carries in a win over Army.
3. Stats leaders. It was a banner day in the stats column for two Big East players. First, Temple running back Montel Harris set Big East records with 351 yards rushing and seven rushing touchdowns in a 63-32 win over Army. He had the highest rushing total of any player in Week 12, despite missing practice all week with a minor knee injury. Temple also tied or set eight different school records, including rushing yards (534) and touchdowns in a game (nine). Later in the evening, Syracuse's Alec Lemon posted the highest receiving total of anybody in Week 12, when he set a career-high with 244 yards receiving in a 31-27 win over Missouri. Lemon caught the 17-yard game-winning touchdown pass with 20 seconds left in the game. His receiving total ranks No. 3 in Big East history. Quarterback Ryan Nassib also had his sixth 300-yard passing day and set the school career passing record with 8,845 yards.

4. Big East > SEC? Made you look! The Big East may not have half its teams ranked in the top 10 of the BCS standings, but it does own a 3-0 record against the SEC this season, after Syracuse pulled the upset on the Missouri Tigers. The Orange joined Louisville (over Kentucky) and Rutgers (over Arkansas) with wins over the top conference in the land, making the Big East a perfect 3-0 against the SEC this season. The last time the Big East went unbeaten versus the SEC was back in 2006, when Louisville beat Kentucky and West Virginia beat Mississippi State. While it is true none of these SEC teams have winning records, it is also true that only Louisville was expected to win its game this year. When you are a league like the Big East, you take any opportunity to beat a team from the SEC, no matter who they are. Both Rutgers and Syracuse booked their SEC road games late, and many thought that could be trouble. But both pulled them out. And now Syracuse is going bowling again.

5. USF may not win another game this year. That is my blunt assessment off a really bad 40-9 loss to Miami. Look, I realize that the Bulls ended up really getting hurt when Bobby Eveld went down with a shoulder injury -- only a quarter after burning his redshirt. But here is the thing. Matt Floyd was the backup behind B.J. Daniels all season. He played in several games this year. And Miami has one of the worst defenses in the nation. And yet, USF could not score a single touchdown on this team for the second straight year. Skip Holtz did his team no favors with poor clock management at the end of the first half, and his decision to settle for field goals in the fourth quarter. Injuries have piled up everywhere on offense, and it showed Saturday. Remaining on the schedule: at Cincinnati; Pitt.

Miami dominates USF, 40-9

November, 17, 2012
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The last two games in the series between Miami and USF were close.

Not Saturday.

Miami dominated in every single way, beating the beaten-down Bulls 40-9 to clinch bowl eligibility. Now we wait to see whether the Hurricanes make a decision to self-impose sanctions with ACC title hopes on the line.

All Miami has to do is beat Duke next week to make its first ACC championship game -- if the school opts against a postseason ban for the second straight year.

The Hurricanes (6-5) took advantage of a depleted USF (3-7) team -- with Stephen Morris throwing for over 400 yards and three different receivers going over 100 yards. That is pretty remarkable, considering how that position group has been depleted because of injuries and the suspension of Rashawn Scott.

But Clive Walford, Herb Waters and Phillip Dorsett each reached the century mark. And Morris became the second quarterback in Miami history to post three 400-yard passing games in his career, joining Heisman Trophy winner Gino Torretta. The 413 passing yards are the second-most USF has ever allowed.

The Bulls, meanwhile, have now failed to make a bowl game for the second straight season. A team that opened the year with such high hopes is in total disarray.

Playing without B.J. Daniels, the Bulls could muster nothing on offense. Skip Holtz made the decision to start Bobby Eveld, burning the quarterback's redshirt in the 10th game of the season. It is a move that totally backfired, as Eveld sprained his shoulder late in the first quarter and did not return to the game.

Matt Floyd came in and was largely ineffective. About the only time USF moved the ball was at the end of the first half. But a time management blunder cost the Bulls, big time. Down inside the Miami 10, USF inexplicably let the play clock run off 20 seconds, with three timeouts remaining. The Bulls settled for a field goal to trail 16-3 at the half.

They would get no closer.

What to watch in the Big East: Week 12

November, 15, 2012
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Here's what to keep an eye on Saturday.

1) Temple's QB. It is a three-man race to take the first snap under center for the Owls, with Chris Coyer, Clinton Granger and Kevin Newsome vying for the spot. One will be tasked with getting the Owls out of their four-game funk, with Army awaiting.

[+] EnlargeSavon Huggins
Joe Camporeale/US PresswireRutgers may need Savon Huggins to carry the offensive load at Cincinnati if Jawan Jamison is out.
2) Can Rutgers' offense keep up? The Scarlet Knights have been underwhelming on offense of late, to say the least. They had seven turnovers against Kent State and needed a very late run to pull away from Army, and now, heading to Cincinnati, are facing their biggest Big East test to date, possibly without star running back Jawan Jamison, too.

3) Brendon Kay goes for Round 2. The fifth-year senior's starting debut last week against Temple couldn't have gone much better. Now he has to do it against Rutgers' defense, with conference title implications on the line.

4) South Florida's QB. Skip Holtz, like Temple's Steve Addazio, has not announced a starter. Matt Floyd or Bobby Eveld will get the call against Miami -- a team Eveld beat two years ago. How the Bulls respond without B.J. Daniels the rest of the way -- and after finally snapping their losing streak … and after a bye, too -- is worth watching for a team that still has a chance at bowl eligibility.

5) Syracuse goes for bowl eligibility. Frankly, it would typify the Orange's past two seasons to follow up a masterpiece against Louisville with a letdown at Missouri. Winners of three of its past four, Syracuse instead hopes to build off a big win this time, with its offense clicking on all cylinders as it readies for a Tigers team that also is going for win No. 6.

Miami will see USF backup QB -- again

November, 14, 2012
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There really is nothing unusual about USF lining up its backup quarterback against Miami.

This will be the third straight season the Bulls have relied on their second-stringer in this game.

With starter B.J. Daniels out for the season, USF will start either Matt Floyd or Bobby Eveld on Saturday. Coach Skip Holtz has not announced a starter yet, hoping to keep the competition between his two quarterbacks going as long as possible. Floyd has been the backup all season; but Eveld has more game experience -- including the only win in program history over the Hurricanes back in 2010.

"We've got an obligation to put the best quarterback on the field, the one that gives us the best opportunity to win," Holtz said. "As much as it's the opponent, it's the game experience. Being able to go on the road and lead a team in overtime to victory and make some of the plays [Eveld] did, that sits in the back. It's still about who gives you the best chance to win by protecting the ball, but that's one of those intangible things that has to lean in Bobby's favor with his game experience."

The plan going into the season was to redshirt Eveld and go with Floyd as the backup. But after Daniels broke his leg nearly two weeks ago against UConn, the plan changed. Eveld called the last two weeks a "roller coaster" but said he would do whatever it takes to help the team out, even if it means burning his redshirt with three weeks left in the season.

The two have essentially split all the reps last week during the bye and this week as well in order to get themselves prepared for the game. As mentioned earlier, playing Miami is nothing new for Eveld. He has come on in relief of Daniels the past two seasons. During the upset in 2010, he took over at halftime and engineered a fourth-quarter comeback. His 1-yard touchdown run sent the game into overtime, and USF won 23-20 after Demetris Murray scored in the extra period.

Miami coach Randy Shannon was fired hours after the game. But for USF, it was one of the biggest wins in school history. Eveld will never forget the celebration in the locker room.

"I still get way too much credit for that game," Eveld told ESPN.com during a phone interview Wednesday. "I think I was just able to play within the system and I stuck to my reads. The coaches really made it simple as far as terminology. They tried to keep it basic and everybody executed their job."

Miami coach Al Golden said he was not too concerned over who his team would have to face at quarterback, first praising Daniels for his terrific career before saying, "We're ready for either one of them. I see that more as an offensive system as opposed to just a quarterback."

Floyd has gotten the game experience this year, coming on in relief of Daniels briefly against Florida State, and then in the fourth quarter against UConn. He had fumbles in both of those games, perhaps due to nerves. But Floyd is ready for the challenge ahead of him, should his number get called to start. And a big reason why -- the competition has made him better.

"You can’t slack off," Floyd said in an interview with ESPN.com. "You’re never supposed to slack off, but when you’ve got somebody right on your back fighting for your position, it makes you fight that much harder. Me and Bobby are doing a great job pushing each other. Either decision the coaches make is what’s best for the team."

Big East recruiting needs

January, 23, 2012
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National signing day is inching ever closer, so it is time to take a look at the biggest recruiting needs for every team in the Big East.

Cincinnati

Defensive line. Cincinnati loses a host of seniors from this position, including Co-Defensive Player of the Year Derek Wolfe, John Hughes, Monte Taylor, and Rob Trigg. Factor in the key contributors for 2012 will be seniors in Dan Giordano, Brandon Mills and Walter Stewart and it is time to reload at this position.

Receiver. There is some promising young talent on the roster, but several guys are going to be leaving in the next few years. The Bearcats really need a guy who can stretch the field and make some big plays to join Anthony McClung and Alex Chisum.

Secondary. The Bearcats are going to take a hit at this position after 2012, losing a ton of seniors-to-be, including Cam Cheatham, Drew Frey, Dominique Battle and Reuben Johnson. Senior safety Wesley Richardson is already gone. The lone four-star commitment the Bearcats have is from a safety, Marcus Foster.

UConn

Quarterback. This need has been addressed in this recruiting cycle, with junior college transfer Chandler Whitmer and Casey Cochran already enrolled in school.

Tight end. With the impending departure of Ryan Griffin and John Delahunt, the Huskies could use another young player to be groomed to take over. Tight end is a critical part of the UConn offense.

Offensive line. UConn is losing its two best linemen in Moe Petrus and Mike Ryan. Of the 16 linemen currently listed on the roster, seven are juniors or seniors. Linemen generally take a redshirt season, so it never hurts to sign more to be able to restock.

Louisville

Linebacker. The Cardinals are losing Dexter Heyman and have a lot of juniors and seniors on their roster at this position. It is no surprise, then, that three of the top players coming in are linebackers -- Keith Brown and James Burgess are already enrolled; four-star recruit Nick Dawson has given a commitment.

Offensive line. Louisville has young players here, but not much depth, as evidenced this season when several true freshmen were forced to play much earlier than anticipated. It never hurts to build depth here, and the Cardinals have gotten a huge commit from four-star guard Abraham Garcia out of Miami.

Running back. This was an area the Cardinals struggled in this season, having to move quarterback Dominique Brown to the position. Victor Anderson is gone, and this team could really used another back to carry the load.

Pitt

Quarterback. This one is pretty self explanatory if you watched Tino Sunseri play. Mark Myers and Trey Anderson are also on the roster, but the Panthers are in definite need here -- which is why so many fans are looking forward to commit Chad Voytik coming to town.

Linebacker. This has been an area of inconsistency for the Panthers, who lose their best player in Max Gruder. There are some young players with talent in Todd Thomas and Ejuan Price, but this position could definitely use an upgrade.

Receiver. The play of the offense was disappointing this season, and that includes the receivers. Pitt could use some players to stretch the field. Ronald Jones was a start this season. But when you consider that Cameron Saddler, Mike Shanahan and Devin Street will all be upperclassmen in 2012, this is a definite area of need.

Rutgers

Receiver. Mohamed Sanu is gone, and Mark Harrison is a senior to be. There is plenty of young talent, but there is a reason Rutgers has commitments from four athletes. This gives the Scarlet Knights the flexibility to try them at receiver or running back, another area of need.

Running back. Once Savon Huggins got hurt this year, Rutgers had Jawan Jamison and Jeremy Deering at running back and that was about it. Depth has to be developed here.

Offensive line. Strides have absolutely been made at this position, but coach Greg Schiano likes to reiterate that the Scarlet Knights aren't going to pull themselves out of the hole they were in overnight. They need another solid draft class at this position to keep building.

USF

Secondary. Injuries and inconsistent play this season showed the Bulls really lacked some depth and need some immediate help in this area, which is why they signed junior college cornerbacks Fidel Montgomery and Josh Brown. One of their top four-star commitments is cornerback Chris Bivins.

Quarterback. Beyond B.J. Daniels, a senior in 2012, the Bulls have Bobby Eveld and Matt Floyd as the two heirs to take over. Eveld has been less than impressive, and we don't know much about Floyd. The Bulls would be served to get another quarterback in as they prepare for the future.

Running back. Darrell Scott is gone, and the Bulls are really in need of a game breaker at this position. Demetris Murray is going to be a senior, and nobody else really has stepped up at the position. Depth has to be built here, because USF goes into spring practice with four running backs on the roster.

Syracuse

Defensive line. The Orange are losing Chandler Jones and Mikhail Marinovich and could really used some difference-makers up front who can help get after the quarterback. Depth is an issue here. One of their big commitments so far has been defensive end Josh Manley out of Georgia.

Secondary. This was one of the weakest parts of the team and now the Orange lose Phillip Thomas and Kevyn Scott, and there was a lack of depth when injuries hit this position in 2011. Brooklyn prep safety Wayne Morgan would be a huge get to add to this unit.

Receiver. Alec Lemon is a senior, Van Chew is gone and who knows what happens with Marcus Sales. The bottom line is the Orange are in major need of a game-changer to turn 15-yard passes into 40-yard receptions.

West Virginia

Quarterback. Geno Smith is a rising senior and after him it is crickets in the form of one player behind him in Paul Millard. So consider this need majorly filled with Ford Childress, ranked No. 139 on the ESPNU 150.

Offensive line. The most inconsistent part of the team in 2011, West Virginia has a major need here. The Mountaineers struggled so badly here they started converted defensive lineman Curtis Feigt late in the season. Don Barclay is gone, and Joe Madsen, Jeff Braun and Josh Jenkins are all upperclassmen.

Defensive line. Julian Miller, Josh Taylor and Bruce Irvin are gone, and there are depth concerns here. West Virginia has four commitments from defensive linemen already.
Here are the top story lines in the Big East as the regular season comes to a close.

1. Who is going to the BCS? You want to know as badly as I do. So do Louisville, West Virginia and Cincinnati. No matter what happens in the West Virginia game against USF on Thursday night, we will not have our answer until Cincinnati plays UConn on Saturday. Just as a quick refresher: West Virginia needs a win and a Cincinnati win to force a three-way tie atop the Big East standings. Tiebreaker goes to the BCS standings, where the Mountaineers are currently the highest-ranked Big East team at No. 23. Louisville needs Cincinnati to lose. Cincinnati needs a win and a West Virginia loss.

Willie Milhouse
Jared Wickerham/Getty ImagesWith a win Thursday and a Cincinnati win Saturday, West Virginia could be laughing its way to the BCS.
2. Bowl hopes in the air. USF, UConn, Pitt and Syracuse all have a chance to become bowl-eligible with victories. Only three of them have a shot, as Pitt and Syracuse play each other. USF has made it to six consecutive bowl games; UConn to four in a row; and Pitt to three. Syracuse broke its long bowl drought last season. USF and UConn are underdogs; Pitt is favored to beat the Orange. An upset or two will have to happen for the Big East to get more than five bowl-eligible teams this season. The last time the Big East did not have six bowl-eligible teams was 2007.

3. USF magic. In all three USF wins over West Virginia, the Bulls have pulled an upset on a ranked Mountaineers team. Will it happen a fourth time? West Virginia has not won in Tampa since 2005, but USF does not exactly play well on Thursday nights. Shall we hearken back to Week 5, when USF got beaten badly at Pitt? USF is now 0-7 in Thursday night games as a member of the Big East.

4. B.J. Daniels' status. That leads to the next story line. Will the USF quarterback be able to play? Daniels missed last week's game against Louisville with a bruised sternum, and his status is questionable for Thursday. Backup Bobby Eveld has lost both games he has started in his career. The last time West Virginia visited Tampa, Daniels threw for three touchdowns and ran for 100 yards in a 30-19 win. He didn't fare as well last year, throwing three interceptions in a 20-6 loss in Morgantown.

5. Isaiah Pead vs. UConn D. Pead had 246 all-purpose yards in a win over Syracuse last week, and has proven to be the best player on the Bearcats offense. You can bet Cincinnati will try to get him the ball as frequently as possible, but he will be facing one of the better run defenses in the league and the nation. UConn ranks third nationally against the run, allowing 2.7 yards per carry. On the season, no running back has gone over 100 yards on this defense. That's because teams have had much better luck passing on what has been a lackluster secondary.

6. Best QB combos. Which team has the best dual-threat quarterback situation: Cincinnati with Munchie Legaux and Jordan Luallen, or UConn with Johnny McEntee and Scott McCummings? The Huskies have used both for nearly the entire season, and have been most effective of late -- McCummings has four of his five touchdown runs in the past three games. The Bearcats used Luallen for the first time in a win over Syracuse last week, and he ran for 77 yards. On two of his runs, he came up just short of the goal line.

7. Does the losing streak end? Syracuse has lost four straight, and coach Doug Marrone said he wanted to make sure his players stopped pressing and starting having more fun on the football field. Perhaps a more carefree attitude will help a team that has had a tough time scoring — and stopping opponents. Syracuse ranks No. 89 in the nation in total offense, and No. 71 in total defense. The Orange face another tough challenge against an active Pitt defensive front, which has 36 sacks on the season.

8. Sunseri rebound? Tino Sunseri had a rough outing in a 21-20 loss to West Virginia last week in the Backyard Brawl. He was sacked 10 times -- nine on the final 25 plays of the game. Many were his fault because he held onto the football too long. Sunseri has followed up his subpar performances with good ones of late. After a bad game against Utah, he threw for 419 yards against UConn. After two turnovers in a loss to Cincinnati, he managed the game effectively in a victory over Louisville. So which Sunseri shows up Saturday?

Final: Louisville 34, USF 24

November, 25, 2011
11/25/11
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What an incredible turnaround for Louisville: from a 2-4 start to Big East champions.

The Cardinals clinched at least a share of the league title after a 34-24 win against USF -- its first ever victory at Raymond James Stadium. Their hopes of clinching a BCS berth also remain alive. All they need is for Pitt to lose, and Cincinnati to lose at least once in the next two weeks. The Panthers play West Virginia tonight; Cincinnati is at Syracuse on Saturday.

Louisville took control in the fourth quarter, when a series of USF mistakes led to its unraveling. The Bulls, playing without starting quarterback B.J. Daniels, led 17-3 at one point in the second quarter, and took a 24-20 lead into the fourth. The Cardinals decided to go for it on fourth-and-inches from the USF 13, and a great second effort from Dominique Brown allowed them to get the first down. Teddy Bridgewater threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to DeVante Parker, who was wide open in the end zone because of a miscommunication in the secondary.

Louisville took a 27-24 lead, then added to it after USF freshman receiver Andre Davis fumbled at the USF 17. Brown rushed for a 9-yard touchdown for the final score. The Bulls really struggled to move the ball in the fourth quarter. Its only score of the second half came on a trick play, when Demetris Murray threw a 37-yard touchdown pass to Deonte Welch.

The Cardinals (7-5, 5-2) still need help to make the BCS, but this still has been a remarkable season when you consider all the adversity this team had to overcome -- from its tough start, to having a young team that has had trouble focusing at times this season, to the scary neck injury suffered by Anthony Conner.

Bridgewater is all but assured of winning Big East freshman of the year honors after another solid performance, throwing three touchdown passes on the day. Louisville converted 9 of its 18 third-down opportunities. USF: 4-of-15.

Bobby Eveld struggled with Daniels on the sideline, going 20-of-35 for 210 yards with a touchdown an interception. The problem in the second half was an inability to sustain drives, the same problem that plagued the Bulls last week.

Now USF (5-6, 1-5) needs to beat West Virginia next week in order to keep its string of seven straight bowl seasons alive. The Bulls have blown second-half leads in four of their games this season.

Predictions: Big East Week 13

November, 23, 2011
11/23/11
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With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, we are giving you our predictions a day early. Happy, happy, joy, joy, right? Not for anybody who has to pick the games in this league, that is for sure. Trying to pin down one team is the equivalent of trying to corral a muddy pig. But that is why they pay me the ultra gigantic big bucks. I went 2-1 last week to bring the season total up to 41-21.

Friday

Louisville at USF, 11 a.m., ESPN2. The Cardinals are 0-for-4 in Tampa, so I penciled in USF to win this game based on the Ray Jay voodoo factor. Then B.J. Daniels got hurt, and it is unknown whether he will be available to play. The Cardinals have won four of five and are playing for a spot in the BCS, so the potential for distraction is there. Plus, they are going to have to contend with what has developed into one of the better defensive lines in the league. USF has not allowed a 100-yard rusher in four straight games, and most recently held Lamar Miller to 50 yards rushing. The Bulls have the two highest sack totals in school history this season (seven against UConn, six against Miami). But Bobby Eveld moved the offense 68 yards on four drives last week against Miami and will be facing a defense that likes to blitz. He does not present the option to run, the way Daniels does, so that will make it easier for Louisville to be more aggressive with its schemes. This one may end up being a punt-fest, but watch for Louisville to do enough to win. Louisville 17, USF 13.

Pitt at West Virginia, 7 p.m., ESPN. The two bitter rivals meet for what could be the last time as conference members. But more than bragging rights is on the line in this one. Both teams need to win in order to keep their BCS and Big East title hopes alive. Pitt showed against Louisville it is perfectly capable of playing a ground game even without Ray Graham. West Virginia has had some issues stopping the run this year. Meanwhile, Geno Smith, Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin are going to be facing a defense that might be the most improved in the league from Week 1 until now. The Mountaineers are going to have to figure out a way to control Aaron Donald (nine sacks) and the defensive line, which has an advantage on paper in this one. If they can, there are opportunities -- especially in the screen game and underneath. West Virginia needs to force the game into the hands of Tino Sunseri, and force him into mistakes (he has eight interceptions to nine touchdowns this season). This is a game that has had its share of upsets, but West Virginia will win because of its superior talent at the skill positions. West Virginia 31, Pitt 24.

Saturday

Cincinnati at Syracuse, noon, Big East Network. This is a must-win game for both teams: the Bearcats have to win out to keep their hopes alive for a Big East championship, Syracuse needs a win to become bowl eligible. Neither team was impressive on offense their last time out. Cincinnati has to find ways to help take the load off quarterback Munchie Legaux. It would help if the Bearcats controlled the line of scrimmage the way they have for most of the season. They failed badly in that category last week against Rutgers. Cincinnati should have the advantage along the offensive and defensive lines in this one, but if the Bearcats don't block, drop passes and fail to do anything on first down, it's going to be a long day again. Syracuse worked ones versus ones during its bye week to try and better simulate game conditions. The last time the Orange came off a bye, they beat West Virginia. I really think Cincinnati steps up to help Legaux. Cincinnati 24, Syracuse 20.

Rutgers at UConn, noon, ESPN2. If the last three years are any indication, this game is going to be wild and close. The last three meetings have been decided by a total of nine points. Last season, the Scarlet Knights came from behind to beat UConn 27-24 for their only league win of the season. But the teams are headed in opposite directions this season. Rutgers has a chance to clinch a share of their first ever Big East title; UConn is barely clinging to its bowl hopes. The Huskies turned in a disappointing performance last week against Louisville, full of missed tackles and dropped passes. Now they will be going against an aggressive defense that absolutely shut down Cincinnati last week. UConn has had major problems in the secondary and though Blidi Wreh-Wilson is back, how will the Huskies guard Mohamed Sanu? Rutgers 27, UConn 17.
USF coach Skip Holtz said he would wait and see how B.J. Daniels handles treatment on his sprained right shoulder before determining whether to start the quarterback Friday against Louisville.

Holtz said Daniels has a sprained AC joint in his throwing shoulder that looks more like a bruise. He is preparing Bobby Eveld to start in case Daniels is unable to play. USF has a short week of practice because of the Friday game, so Daniels would need to get reps either today, Tuesday or Wednesday to have any shot at playing.

Daniels was hurt in the third quarter against Miami last week after being tackled on a running play.

"Players that don’t practice all week are a bit rusty, and you aren’t going to get the same performance from the guy who hasn’t been healthy," Holtz said Monday during the Big East coaches' call. "Don’t know what B.J. is going to be able to do ... we’ll have to wait and see. With it being a short week ... if he's not able to practice one of those three days, it will be hard for him. We'll get Bobby Eveld a lot of work this week and approach it like we don’t have B.J. and he’s not going to be there, and then we’ll see if he can come and join us tomorrow or Wednesday."

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