Who will be the starting quarterback this year for USF?

Posted: July 24, 2014 in Football

Last year was a disaster on offense as the Bulls struggled to move the ball down the field. After Matt Floyd was benched for the year after the first game, the shuffle at quarterback began as the Bulls failed to get consistent play from anyone. Entering the 2014-15 season, the Bulls will be looking again to find their starting quarterback as the position is wide open entering the fall camp. 

Last year, Matt Floyd became the starter for the opening game and it was a disaster. After he was benched, 3 players took time under center, Bobby Eveld, Mike White, and Steven Bench.  Eveld graduated at the end of the year, leaving Mike White and Steven Bench to battle for the starting job for the 2014 season, but who will win it? With all due respect to Kyle Clise, Tommy Eveld, Evan Wilson, and incoming freshman Quinton Flowers, the battle comes down to White and Bench. Let’s take a look at the two quarterbacks and their stories from last year and how it all played out for them.

Let’s start with Mike White. Mike White came in last year and became the starter late in the year. As a true freshman, he completed 93 passes out of 175 attempts for 1083 yards with 3 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 6 games. He completed 53.1% of his passes and had a 100.5 efficiency rating while throwing for 180.5 yards per game (was 14 for -43 on carries as well). White showed flashes at times during the year, especially after the Houston game where we completed 22 passes out of 27 attempts for 263 yards and 3 touchdowns, but he struggled in other games, fully expected by a true freshman taking over an offense that was failing to get the new system rolling. White stood tall in the pocket, delivered passes well at times, but in others, he was flushed, missed throws, and was not overly accurate. He was a true freshman, had a bad offensive line, and aside from Andre Davis, did not have the reliable targets around him. There were a lot of reasons why he struggled but he showed enough flashes on some throws that got fans excited about the future.

Enter Steven Bench. The Penn State transfer came into the fall late and played catch up the entire year learning the playbook, but showed more mobility than Mike White when he did play. Bench saw some playing time but a knee injury limited him late in the year. During his brief playing time, he completed 26 passes out 64 attempts for 392 yards for 2 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. He completed 40% of his passes and had a 93 efficiency ratting while averaging 56 yards per game. While he had 24 carries for -30 yards overall, he did have more mobility in the pocket over White, but a bad offensive line couldn’t keep him on his feet very long. Bench was limited throughout the year due to his lack of familiarity with the playbook, limiting the offense he could run while on the field. He also injured his knee during the year, hindering him physically from taking more snaps.

So here we are today. A sophomore quarterback that can throw, has a year under his belt, but isn’t as mobile and has a lot of questions still surrounding him. Then on the other hand we have a redshirt junior that can be mobile, but did not show a lot of long throws in limited action, leaving Coach Taggart with two quarterbacks entering the fall that will both be pushing for the starting job.

So where do they stand? After the spring game, many including myself thought Mike White would be far ahead of anyone else, but that wasn’t entirely true. Steven Bench completed 19 out of 24 pass attempts for 317 yards and 3 touchdowns. Bench was accurate and looked impressive. White on the other hand was 20 for 34 for 174 yards, struggling at times. Now it has to be taken with a grain of salt with the numbers from the spring game. Bench had Andre Davis to throw to and neither had the full arsenal of receivers and starting offensive linemen to protect them during their games, so the numbers don’t mean to much. However, it did show that Bench is healthy, has a much strong grasp of the offense, and is right there with White when it comes to pushing for the starting job.

So who will be the starer? The answer is no one knows and the battle is wide open between White and Bench entering the fall camp. Bench is right there with White for the starting job. Both have the same knowledge of the playbook, making for a very interesting battle entering the camp. I think White enters the camp slightly ahead of Bench but in the end, whether its game one or late in the year I think Bench will see playing time and could even win a start depending on how the year plays out. What do you think fans? Who will be the starter for game one and for the entire year (barring injury)?

 

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