TAMPA — University of South Florida coach Willie Taggart hasn’t publicly named a starting quarterback for Saturday’s game at Connecticut — although it’s likely that Bobby Eveld will be the No. 1 guy, given the ongoing recovery of sophomore Steven Bench from a knee injury.
But the USF defense knows who it will be facing. The Huskies, with interim coach T.J. Weist taking over for the fired Paul Pasqualoni, have tabbed 6-foot-4, 212-pound freshman QB Tim Boyle to make his first start.
First-time starter for UConn? That seems like a good recipe for USF’s defense, which had four takeaways and nine tackles for a loss in last weekend’s 26-20 victory against Cincinnati. The Bulls (1-4, 1-0 American Athletic Conference) are seeking their first 2-0 league start since 2003 (Conference USA) with a win against the Huskies (0-4).
“They’re starting (Boyle) for a reason,’’ USF coach Willie Taggart said Thursday. “I’m sure they believe in him and the kid is talented. For us, we want to hit the quarterback every opportunity we can.
“I think our guys understand where we are as a program and within the conference. But the thing we harp on each day is wanting to be better than the day before. We’re still sending the same message. If we can be better than we were last week, we’ll have ourselves a good football team. Not taking a step back, that’s so important for us.’’
NEXT MAN UP: The health of Bench (knee) and senior RB Marcus Shaw (leg) remains a concern. Shaw has 552 rushing yards and his 110.2-yard per-game average ranks 21st in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
But Taggart said he believes the Bulls have capable players in Eveld, who was 10 of 16 passing for 122 yards against Cincinnati, and junior RB Michael Pierre (16 carries for 61 yards against the Bearcats).
“You never know when you’re going to get that opportunity,’’ Taggart said. “You’ve got to be ready for that opportunity when it comes. For you not to be ready, shame on you. That’s the approach we take. We’re not going to sit around and pout because somebody went down. Prepare, coach ‘em up, then go in and produce.’’