CHARLOTTE, N.C. -
The most pressing question surrounding the University of South Florida football team is whether sophomore B.J. Daniels or freshman Bobby Eveld will be under center at the start of Friday's Meineke Car Care Bowl.
The fact it is a question, though, is viewed as nothing but a positive to Bulls coaches.
Competition at every position is what the USF coaching staff craves, and it now is being staged at the most important position on the field. The timing might not be ideal, and the situation that brought it about - Daniels being injured - probably wasn't either. But Coach Skip Holtz believes the past month, when Daniels and Eveld have split practice reps in a battle for the No. 1 spot, has been more beneficial than anything else.
"I think competition makes the entire football team better," said Holtz, who still wasn't prepared to name a starter during a meeting with the media Wednesday. "Both of them have embraced that and they're making each other better right now."
When the season began without any competition for the starting job, there certainly was a sense of nervousness surrounding the position, offensive coordinator Todd Fitch said. Not only were the Bulls implementing a new offensive system, but Daniels also was the only quarterback on the roster with any collegiate experience. So a top priority quickly became trying to keep him healthy.
"That was part of our deal with B.J. early in the season," Fitch said. "You wanted to use his talents, but you also know that the more you put him out there the more you expose him to hits. So we were very cautious.
"Unfortunately when he got (hurt), it was unfortunate for him but it also forced our hand to play Bobby, and obviously he handled the situation pretty well. As this thing unfolded we found out that we can play with two guys."
Now the coaches are pressed with determining which one gives the team the best chance to win against Clemson, though Holtz said after Tuesday's workout that both would see action against the Tigers.
The two have different skill sets, with Daniels being the more mobile threat with big-play capability when he's out of the pocket and Eveld being the more prototypical pocket passer. Daniels has an overwhelming edge in experience, but Eveld has shown remarkable poise for a player who is just more than a year removed from high school. Both players have earned the respect of their teammates.
"Both of those guys are great guys," USF running back Demetris Murray said. "They come out and do what the quarterback is supposed to do, take control of the huddle, take control of the offense and step on the field and make a play that has to be made."
And they both have taken the open competition in stride.
"It helps anytime you have a guy pushing you," Daniels said. "I go out every day and try to practice hard and do what I can. I want to do the best I can every time I go out in practice or in games."
Added Eveld: "Every day in practice there is just that competitive nature that you always want to do your best and be the best player that you can be. I think that's the attitude that everyone on the team takes, and I think it's helped us throughout the year."