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Bulls AD Kelly continues indoor facility pitch

USA Today Sports
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The Bulls are once again making their very understandable pitch for an indoor practice facility. South Florida’s Athletic Director Michael Kelly had a lot to say about the programs dire need to a room full of boosters on Thursday.

At the inaugural “Bulls Kickoff Luncheon” at the Marriott Water Street in Tampa, he got on the podium to make the football team’s case.

“As you probably read, we had a lot of rain and storms (Wednesday) that inconvenienced the heck out of our guys and all of our staff,”

He added, “It’s one thing when we do it in the summertime and we don’t have class. We can navigate around that, as inconvenient as it is. But when you get to class time, there’s no way. … We’re not missing class.”

Located in one of the most rain-prone cities in the country, the weather too often limits the available practice time for USF. And in their quest to compete with the most elite collegiate programs, they’re going to need that valuable time in practice.

“Many of you have heard us preaching this for over a year now,” Kelly said. “We’re gonna keep on preaching it ’til we get it built.”

Back in 2017, USF unveiled its plans for a $40 million, 160,000-square-foot football center. The facility will be added to the Morsani Football Practice Complex and include an 83,000-square-foot indoor practice facility with a 110-yard turf field. The center will also feature a two-level, 80,000-square foot building to house the entire football program’s offices.

So far the Bulls have secured about 20 million dollars of funding towards the project. The university is searching for “private and corporate support,” and has announced that no student fees or tuition will be used to finance the facility.

Kelly’s hopeful of breaking ground as early as next spring.

The much-needed “IPF” could be another selling point to show recruits during their on-campus visits. Florida, FSU, Miami and UCF all have indoor practice facilities.

In fact, when former FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher was campaigning to Seminole Boosters to fund Florida State’s IPF, his main sell was that in modern day college football, he couldn’t guarantee that FSU would win a national championship with an IPF, but he could certainly guarantee they wouldn’t win one without it. The facility was completed in early 2013… the same season FSU won the national championship.

For USF, it will also allow other sports programs, such as the baseball, and soccer teams, to train during unfavorable weather conditions. Players will also have a team auditorium with tiered seating where they can review plays from previous games and scout upcoming opponents.

Kelly told reporters after the luncheon that it was a great opportunity to talk to a larger group of supporters, 500 in total (including Tampa’s Mayor Jane Castor), who might not have known the severity of the issue.

“I know our die-hard fans are intimately aware of it, but this was an expanded group. When you have a lot of people that invite seven, eight, nine, 10 people that are guests at a table to kind of hear the vision of USF football and to hear what we have in store for the future…it’s a great opportunity for us.”

With the momentum USF has going into the next couple of seasons, this addition would certainly allow them to capitalize on it.

Abbey is a native Floridan who grew up a fan of all Tampa Bay sports teams. She’s recently graduated from Florida State University with a degree in Media Communication Studies. In her time at FSU, she was an In-Game Host for the Basketball and Baseball teams, and reported for Seminole Sports Magazine, producing feature stories that appeared on Fox Sports Sun. She’s excited to share her perspective on all of Florida’s Football teams, especially the Seminoles.

USF Bulls

Bulls sticking with Jordan McCloud as starting QB

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

After two less than stellar offensive performances by the Bulls to start the season, USF head coach Charlie Strong and OC Kerwin Bell decided to switch things up for week 3. Just two hours before game time, the team learned that Jordan McCloud would be the starting quarterback against South Carolina state.

In fact, the decision was made so last minute that the video board in Raymond James Stadium still showed Blake Barnett as starter.

And it turned out to be a good decision.

The Bulls pulled away with their first win of the season in a 55-16 domination over the Bulldogs.

And it’s looking like they Bulls are going to try to build a win streak by keeping McCloud under center next week.

McCloud’s starting quarterback career started off a bit shaky. In his first snap, he tossed an incomplete pass intended for sophomore slot receiver Johnny Ford for a loss of 3 yards. The Bulls lost 12 yards in its first two drives with three incomplete passes and a sack.

However, he settled down on the next drive and led the offense for a gain of 64 yards, complete with a 42-yard touchdown pass to Ford. McCloud finished the game throwing for 217 yards with three touchdowns, and rushing for 56 yards. Most importantly, he proved to be shiftier behind a spotty O-Line, which allowed him to complete more plays than Blake Barnett has this season.

The redshirt freshman is a Tampa native who as senior in high school completed 160 of 295 passes for 2,426 yards and 26 touchdowns. He originally played at Sickles High School in 2017, but transferred to powerhouse 7A State title contender, Plant High. That’s where he had a 12-2 record, district and regional titles, and a trip to the state semifinals in 2018.

While it’s likely that Barnett would’ve put up similar numbers against South Carolina State, his most recent loss against Georgia Tech last weekend marked an 8 game losing streak for South Florida, and there was something to be said for switching things up and trying out McCloud.

He was able to spark USF, where Barnett clearly has not been able to since last October.

Coach Strong knows he needs to capitalize on this momentum, before this season becomes his last in Tampa.

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USF Bulls

Bulls OC Bell takes responsibility for shut out against Wisconsin

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

In Friday night’s opener against Big Ten perennial contender Wisconsin, the Bulls had suffered their worst loss in program history and left fans wondering what has caused such a downward spiral in the program over the last year and a half? And in a 49-0 loss, its hard to tell which side of the ball is a bigger struggle for the South Florida program?

While both looked alarmingly bad, the lack of offense was the ultimate reasoning behind the shut out, which led coordinator Kerwin Bell to taking full responsibility when speaking to the media on Wednesday.

“I’m the OC so I take all the blame, that’s all on my shoulders,” said Bell. “I’ve been in that position before, I’ve been shut out before, it didn’t feel good and surely last Friday night didn’t also. I was very disappointed in our performance. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”

Bell offered somewhat of an explanation as to why the team came out looking so ill-prepared and resembling every bit the team that lost their final six games last season. He said it’s the style of offense he’s introducing and that it takes time to get a team fully acclimated to it, which is not a new feat for him.

“This system is a little bit different than what everybody runs in college football, it’s more of a pro style. A lot of thinking, a lot of going through progressions and receivers changing their route on the run,” he added, “It takes a little bit of time and I’ve incorporated this thing 3 or 4 times now in new systems and we’ll be able to handle it. We’ll get up to speed, we just need some success with it.”

Bell also touched on the absence of USFs star slot receiver Johnny Ford. While there’s been no explanation to why he sat out of last weekends game, the Bulls play-caller did say that having him back will free up the rest of the offense in a major way.

“Johnny missing the game was big for us. We had a lot stuff on him to handle some of their man coverages. He’s a great man beater for us. With him being out it really put a lot of extra emphasis on other guys and he really frees up the team because he’s got so much ability running and catching the football.”

Bell, as head coach, led Valdosta State to an unbeaten season this past year and the Division II national championship. His offense at Valdosta led the nation in scoring (52.0 ppg), ranked second in first downs (341) and was fourth in total offense (523.9 ypg), red-zone offense (.901) and pass efficiency (167.37).

He has been around the block, coaching at various levels of college ball plus the CFL and high school. In addition to his many stops along the way as a coach, he also carved out a professional playing career which lasted over a decade.

Although he may have a history of offensive success, he’ll have a short timeline to start seeing success under head coach Charlie Strong or it may be a foregone conclusion before USF ever begins American Conference play, that this will be Strong’s final year and would likely Bells, as well.

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