TAMPA — University of South Florida sophomore QB Steven Bench (knee) and senior RB Marcus Shaw (leg), who were injured in the 26-20 victory against Cincinnati, are “questionable’’ to play in Saturday’s game at Connecticut, coach Willie Taggart said.
Taggart, speaking on the American Athletic Conference teleconference, offered little elaboration. But he said the injuries are not season-threatening “as far as I know’’ and he would have a better idea about the everyone’s status as the week developed.
Asked specifically if Bobby Eveld will start against UConn, Taggart said, “Could be; not sure yet.’’
Eveld, in relief of Bench, was 10 of 16 passing for 122 yards and no turnovers against the Bearcats. Meanwhile, junior RB Michael Pierre, who had 16 carries for 61 yards, figures to become the primary runner if Shaw is unavailable.
“I thought (Eveld) did a good job of taking care of the football,’’ Taggart said. “That’s something we constantly preach to the quarterbacks. I’m confident in Bobby’s ability to lead our football team.
“Mike (Pierre) came in and was pretty efficient running the ball. The more reps (he gets), the better he’ll become as a running back. I thought Mike played physical, especially in pass protection. With more reps, he’ll see some of the holes he didn’t see.’’
KLOSS HONORED: Bulls junior PK Marvin Kloss was named the American Athletic Conference special teams player of the week. Kloss had four field goals against the Bearcats, including a 52-yarder, the third-longest in USF history.
“Marvin has been a weapon,’’ Taggart said. “There will be plenty of games where we’re going to lean on him.’’
Meanwhile, USF senior FS Mark Joyce, who had two interceptions, was named to the AAC’s weekly honor roll. Joyce was the first USF player to have a two-interception game since 2009, joining Nate Allen against Syracuse.
WORDS FROM HARBAUGH: After his first victory at USF, Taggart said he was contacted Saturday night by his mentor, San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh.
“He basically said he was proud, he was happy, keep working and it’s the start of many to come,’’ Taggart said. “He also reminded me that winning can beget softness, too, so make sure we continue to work hard and win with humble hearts.’’
FAMILIAR FOE: The Bulls (1-4) travel to UConn (0-4), a site where USF has lost four straight games. The Huskies are in turmoil after last week’s firing of Paul Pasqualoni, but interim head coach T.J. Weist is a familiar foe for Taggart. Weist and Taggart were on Jack Harbaugh’s Western Kentucky University staff together for five seasons, including 2002, when the Hilltoppers won the Division I-AA national title.
“We know each other well, our families are close and everything,’’ Weist said. “It was good to see those guys get a win. I’m just glad they got their first win against (Cincinnati), so they don’t have to feel like they’ve got to get their (first) win against us.’’