Bobby Eveld

USF shuffles QBs, Penn State transfer gets first start

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With the Penn State quarterback direction heading down a different path, Steven Bench opted to transfer to South Florida in hopes of getting a better chance to start this season. This weekend that opportunity will finally come. South Florida will start Bench at quarterback as the 0-3 Bulls host the undefeated Miami Hurricanes in Tampa.

“He’s still not there where he knows our offense completely, so we’ve got to be smart with what ask him to do,” USF coach Willie Taggart said according to an ESPN.com report. “We don’t need him to be Tom Brady. We want him to be Steven Bench.”

So who is Steven Bench?

Bench is a Georgia native who was not heavily recruited, but accepted a scholarship offer from Bill O’Brien at Penn State, a good first step for O’Brien’s recruiting plan to move south. Bench backed up Matt McGloin and played only s a last resort last season. In a week two game against Virginia Bench filled in for an injured McGloin and completed two of eight pass attempts. That was Bench’s only football action in 2012, his freshman year. Bench practiced with the Nittany Lions in the spring but O’Brien chose to move in a different direction with the quarterback position with the addition of junior college transfer Tyler Ferguson and incoming blue chip quarterback Christian Hackenberg. Bench transferred to South Florida after learning he would be the odd man out in State College. His transfer came under the NCAA sanctions allowing all Penn State scholarship players to transfer to another program without having to sit out a season, a sanction that has now expired.

Bench’s first college start will come against a tough Miami defense. Miami is ranked 11th in the nation against the pass with opposing quarterbacks completing just 51.1 percent of their pass attempts. Miami has intercepted six passes and allowed just one passing touchdown. That includes two red zone interceptions and the Hurricanes have not allowed a red zone touchdown pass.

Bench will be the third starting quarterback for South Florida early in the season. Matt Floyd lost the starting job very early in the year in a season opening loss to McNeese State and Bobby Eveld was yanked last weekend against Florida Atlantic. The Bulls are ranked 113rd in the country in passing offense, averaging 135 yards per game through the air.

USF’s Taggart being careful on QB decision

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When a coach is mum on the starting quarterback just days before a football game it generally comes off as hiding the cards until it’s time to show their hand. The idea of course is to keep the opposing team guessing, and perhaps spend less time preparing for any particular quarterback and the offensive plays that they tend to run. Coming off an embarrassing debut at South Florida, Willie Taggart has nothing to hide.

South Florida visits Michigan State this weekend and has yet to announce a starting quarterback. The depth chart for the Bulls lists sophomore Matt Floyd on top of the depth chart, with sophomore Steven Bench and senior Bobby Eveld listed behind him with that popular conjunction “or” in the middle. Floyd threw two interceptions last week against McNeese State and Eveld completed half of his attempts for 137 yards. Bench transferred to South Florida in the off-season from Penn State in hopes of competing for a starting job. On Thursday, Joey Johnston of The Tampa Tribune reported via Twitter Taggart has not made a decision on who will start under center for the Bulls in East Lansing, and that the lack of a decision is not being used to keep Michigan State guessing.

When the decision is made, Taggart does not care if the Spartans have the information.

“I don’t care who knows,” Taggart said, according to Johnston.

After the mess of a loss to McNeese State, Taggart has plenty of thinking to do before taking his program in to Big Ten territory this weekend. Last weekend Michigan State allowed Western Michigan to complete 18 of 48 pass attempts and intercepted three passes. Kurtis Drummond returned one of those interceptions for a touchdown. The quarterback position is critical in football, so Taggart needs to make sure he has confidence in his decision going up against a defense that could cause problems like Michigan State could.

For what it’s worth, Floyd was named a captain for South Florida this week.