I talked with Skip Holtz this afternoon, and the South Florida coach was interesting and engaging as usual. Look for highlights from that conversation soon in a blog post near you (this one, actually).
But I thought for now I'd share Holtz's thoughts on the Bulls' quarterback situation heading into this spring, which starts in three weeks. B.J. Daniels, of course, is the most experienced player at the position, but Bobby Eveld showed a lot late in the year as a true freshman. Then there is redshirt freshman Jamius Gunsby, whom Holtz said has "a phenomenal amount of talent." The Bulls also have freshman and early enrollee Matt Floyd, giving them four scholarship quarterbacks a year after they went into the spring with just one (Daniels).
That new-found depth makes Holtz happy. And he plans to use it.
"I always like to roll the balls out in spring and let them compete," he said. "I'm anxious to see all four of them compete, and I'm going to let them compete as we go through spring practice. B.J. is going to have to keep getting better, and Bobby Eveld is going to have to keep getting better.
"Competition is one of the things you have to develop as a coach. You've got to develop your twos and threes as much as you develop your ones, because you never know who's going to finish the season. A year ago, we'd never seen Bobby Eveld throw a football when we went to camp. Then the 11th game of the season, he has to finish the second half against Miami on the road, and he leads us down the field to tie the score and put us into overtime before leading us into the end zone in OT for the win."
While Holtz wants an open competition and for the players to push themselves, Daniels has a huge edge in experience. He struggled early in the season and then was injured late, missing the second half against Miami and the entire season finale against UConn. But he bounced back with a strong performance in the Meineke Car Care Bowl win over Clemson, completing 20 of 27 passes for 189 yards and two scores and running for another touchdown.
"That showed me the character, the competitive nature and the determination the young man has," Holtz said. "He's a young quarterback in a new system a year ago, and early on he makes some mistakes. But I think he learned from those, I think he got better as we went through it and he learned from his mistakes at the end of the year. After his injury, I thought he did a great job of preparation for the bowl game, and he played a great game. He played within the system, led the team and made good decisions.
"Now all of a sudden, B.J. will be a junior. And if you look at the experience he's had over the last two years, he's showed an awful lot about what type of leader and competitor he wants to be. Not only am I looking forward to him being a junior, but I think he's laying a foundation for having a great career here at South Florida."
I reminded Holtz that Daniels has the most career starts of any returning quarterback in the Big East in 2011.
"Well, hopefully if he continues to grow and progress, we'll be able to make that comment for the next two years," he said.
First, Daniels has to win the spring competition at quarterback.