TAMPA — University of South Florida coach Willie Taggart expects senior quarterback Bobby Eveld to start Saturday afternoon when the Bulls (2-4, 2-0 American Athletic Conference) face the No. 18-ranked Louisville Cardinals (6-1, 2-1) at Raymond James Stadium.
Taggart hopes sophomore Steven Bench, who hasn’t played since injuring a knee on Oct. 5 against Cincinnati, could also see action.
But Louisville coach Charlie Strong isn’t concerned about USF’s quarterback starter. The Bulls have thrived with a solid running game, he said. Senior Marcus Shaw, who also has been out since injuring his hamstring against Cincinnati, is “on course’’ for a return to the lineup.
“Their whole offensive scheme is built around the run,’’ Strong said on the weekly AAC teleconference. “Marcus Shaw is just an outstanding running back. They’re a power game, play-action pass (type of offense), so it really doesn’t matter who the quarterback is. They’re just going to run their system.’’
USF, 2-0 in league play for the first time since 2003 in Conference USA, has two straight games — and eight straight quarters — without scoring an offensive touchdown. The school record for an offensive-touchdown drought is nine straight quarters in 2010.
STATE OF THE CARDS: Louisville, the consensus pick to win the AAC and reach its second straight BCS bowl, is coming off a 38-35 home loss against the Central Florida Knights on Friday night. Louisville surrendered a 28-point lead in the second half.
“Louisville is a really good football team, no matter if they lost the game,’’ Taggart said. “Everybody looks at it as an upset, but Central Florida is a really good football team. Louisville knew it was going to be a challenge. (UCF) had a great effort and the miracle of believing paid off for them.’’
Louisville, which probably needs two UCF defeats for a realistic shot at the AAC’s BCS bowl bid, is 1-4 against USF in Tampa.
“It is all about the next game,’’ Strong said. “You have to get back. You can’t allow one loss to beat you twice. It’s all about preparation. We had an opportunity the other night and we didn’t handle it. It’s about us, this team, and them working together to get it going again.’’
Strong praised USF’s defense, which has scored in three straight games. He singled out senior MLB DeDe Lattimore, who he tried to recruit. Lattimore has been part of creating five turnovers in the past three games.
BULLS BITS: The 14 members of USF’s inaugural 1997 team who played four seasons for the Bulls — the self-proclaimed “Original Group’’ or “O.G.s,’’ will be introduced on the field during Saturday’s game. …Former Bucs WR Joey Galloway is the analyst for ESPN2’s broadcast of Louisville-USF. … USF’s two conference wins equals the Big East total during Skip Holtz’s final two seasons (2-12).