With 27 points scored in two games, the USF offense hasn’t done enough to support a defense which allowed just one touchdown last week against Michigan State University. But the Florida Atlantic University (0-2) defense has allowed 65 points through two games, leaving a golden opportunity for the USF offense to get rolling.
Senior quarterback Bobby Eveld was 6-of-25 on passing attempts last week, but USF coach Willie Taggart gave Eveld a vote of confidence following that outing when he named Eveld the starting quarterback against FAU at the beginning of the week.
According to Taggart, it’s not just Eveld’s fault.
“If we see better offense all around, you’ll see better QB performance,” Taggart said. “The goal is to get our guys playing with synergy and to trust each other.”
Even with Eveld confirmed as the starter, USF offensive coordinator Walt Wells said sophomore quarterback Steven Bench will once again see a series or more of action this week to present a different offensive look to FAU.
But for fans lobbying for Bench to start, Taggart said the Penn State transfer isn’t ready to start yet.
“Everybody says ‘put Steven in,’ but we don’t work that way,” Taggart said. “When the man shows us he’s the man, we’ll put him in there and let him play.”
No matter who is lined up behind center Saturday night at Raymond James Stadium, they will face off with a struggling FAU defense that Eveld said he was actually impressed with.
“They’re fast,” he said. “They rally to the ball. They do a great job of getting 11 guys to the ball.”
The Owl defense has been gashed on the ground through two games, allowing 5.7 yards per carry and 206 rushing yards per game.
With the struggles in USF’s passing game, the Bulls’ rushing attack figures to be featured against the Owls’ weak rush defense.
Leading the rush is USF senior running back Marcus Shaw, who Wells said has seized the opportunity to be an impact player in his senior year, while averaging 6.8 yards per rush and ranks second in the AAC (American Athletic Conference) with 119.5 per game.
If Bulls fans are looking for something to find confidence in regarding the offense, it’s that the FAU offense has scored even less than USF, at 19 points through two games.
While the USF offense hopes to get things right in Week 3, USF defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan said he is feeling confident after seeing his defense’s performance against Michigan State last week.
“You never want to say that (it was fun) in a loss, but to see some energy and passion for the game on the sideline was fun,” Bresnahan said. “Now we have to keep it up and take it to another level.”
Bresnahan said the players’ confidence in the scheme is getting better, grading it a “C+” as of right now.
“The No. 1 sign (of growing confidence) is when they know they were wrong,” Bresnahan said. “There’s no question in their mind they missed a gap or whatever it may be, and that’s starting to happen now.”
Bresnahan said he was pleased with the improvement and ‘drastic difference’ from Week 1 to Week 2.
But there’s also a drastic difference between the Michigan State offense and the FAU offense he’s currently preparing for.
“We have to concern ourselves with the athleticism of their team,” Bresnahan said. “Michigan State had big tight ends and FAU has tight ends that are athletic and look more like wide receivers. So we’ve got to play sideline to sideline.”
Taggart said the improvement is partially due to Bresnahan moving down from the coaching booth in Game 1, to the sidelines in Game 2.
Though Taggart and Bresnahan are facing FAU for the first time, USF has an all-time 3-0 record against FAU, and the Bulls will hope to push the record to four.”
By Mike Mallory, Asst. Sports Editor