EAST LANSING, Mich. — By all accounts, the University of South Florida Bulls will stick with senior Bobby Eveld as their starting quarterback.
Even though Eveld's statistics were subpar — six of 25 for 66 yards, one interception, three sacks — USF coach Willie Taggart said there were many factors to blame for Saturday's 21-6 loss against Michigan State at Spartan Stadium.
“It wasn't just Bobby,'' Taggart said. “Six of 25 wasn't just Bobby. The pressure on the quarterback had a lot to do with it. It's hard to complete a pass when you're on your back.
“It's a combined effort. It's a team sport. Quarterbacks get all the blame (when things don't go well). But all those guys have to do their jobs. We had some guys open (who dropped passes). We didn't protect.''
Eveld, playing in relief of starter Matt Floyd, sparked USF to a pair of touchdowns in the second half of last week's 53-21 loss against McNeese State. Taggart opened the quarterback competition during practice and told Eveld on Saturday morning that he would start against Michigan State.
Michigan State scored two of its touchdowns — a 4-yard fumble return and a 56-yard interception return, both by sophomore defensive end Shilique Calhoun — when Eveld was hit from the blind side.
After the second turnover, Eveld was briefly shaken up. Sophomore Steven Bench, a transfer from Penn State, played one third-quarter series. Bench had a 4-yard run and misfired on his only pass attempt. After that, Eveld played the remainder of the game.
“Bobby was dinged up a little bit, but we had a package planned for Steven,'' Taggart said. “I don't personally think Bobby did anything to hurt us. There were turnovers, but he got hit in the back. Those plays changed the momentum of the game.''
Eveld said he considers USF's record (0-2) a much more relevant statistic than his personal numbers.
“Either way, at the end of the day, we lost,'' Eveld said. “And that's the most important thing, to try and get a victory. I'd definitely say my stats were probably not the greatest. That's something I need to do a better job of.
“There were a few throws I should've made, but I didn't. Overall, from a quarterback standpoint, even if it doesn't reflect your play, you're still going to blame yourself. I feel like I could've done a lot more to help us.''
Eveld is best remembered for helping engineer a 23-20 victory at Miami in 2010, when he was a walk-on freshman who relieved the injured B.J. Daniels. Saturday afternoon was his fourth career start. He's 0-4 in those games.
“To be honest, it doesn't really matter if I start or not,'' Eveld said. “I'm still going to prepare the same way.
“There's stuff we did right, but there's stuff we did wrong. I wouldn't say it's a step backward, but we have a lot of progress we need to make and we need to make it quick.''