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.
Regarding how Blake Barnett took the news that McCloud would be starting, Strong said: "Blake is a professional and he understands. He was good with it." @USFFootball
— Joey Knight (@TBTimes_Bulls) September 16, 2019
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.
USF QB Barnett undergoing season ending surgery
Blake Barnett’s wild college career may be coming to an unfortunate end, sooner than expected. Multiple sources have reported that his ankle injury will require surgery that will keep him out the the remainder of this season.
Bay News 9 Tampa Bay reporter Chris Torello broke the news Thursday night.
— CHRIS TORELLO (@TorelloSports) October 17, 2019
It’s also been confirmed by Bulls beat reporter, Joey Knight.
— Joey Knight (@TBTimes_Bulls) October 17, 2019
Barnett suffered the injury in the Bulls Week 5 game against SMU. Last week, USF head coach Charlie Strong said that Barnett would not be available for the Bulls’ game vs. BYU and would meet with doctors to re-evaluate the injury. Unfortunately, the news was not good for the 23 year old, veteran quarterback.
Out of high school, he was heavily recruited and landed on Alabama’s roster as the starter before being quickly beat out by freshman Jalen Hurts. From there, he spent a season at Arizona State before transferring again to South Florida where he was named QB1.
In his first season with the Bulls, Barnett threw for 2,705 yards, 12 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions in 11 games, missing two crucial conference games with injury. He led them to a strong 7-0 start to the year before the team fizzled out on a 0-6 losing streak to end the season.
His second season in Tampa started off rockier when began the year with a 49-0 shutout against Wisconsin. It didn’t get much better as the Bulls found themselves with a 1-3 record in their first four games. In 2019, Barnett threw for 434 yards, four touchdowns, and two interceptions.
Jordan McCloud, who is still nursing a shoulder injury, will continue to start for USF, with sophomore Kirk Rygol now at backup with Barnett down for the season. OC Kerwin Bell confirmed on Wednesday that McCloud should be ready to play by Saturday in their matchup with Navy.
Kerwin Bell said QB Jordan McCloud, still nursing a shoulder stinger, practiced today but sat out Tuesday. They’re optimistic he’ll be fine for @NavyFB on Saturday.
— Joey Knight (@TBTimes_Bulls) October 16, 2019
As for Barnett, it is still up in the air as to whether this will be his final season as a college quarterback. Because he’s only played in four games this season, he could attempt to take a medical redshirt after already using his regular redshirt. However, he’s already been to quite a few programs, so it’s possible that he may just elect to end his college career.
Former USF QB Quinton Flowers returns to Tampa in XFL
Next February, the XFL Football League will reemerge in its reformed version by Vince McMahon. On Tuesday, the league’s eight teams were making preparation’s with a draft of players. And, this includes the Tampa Bay franchise, The Vipers, who in the 5th round, selected former USF Bulls quarterback, Quinton Flowers.
Even though his previous seasons in Tampa have been spent under center, he has been selected as a running back for the Vipers.
— Joey Knight (@TBTimes_Bulls) October 15, 2019
We wrote previously, that a local high school and SEC star, Aaron Murray was given to them as their starting Quarterback.
— Tampa Bay Vipers (@XFLVipers) October 15, 2019
Murray has ties to the Tampa Bay area, as a native who led Plant High School to a State Football Championship. He’s also the Southeastern Conference all-time leader in completions passing yards and passing touchdowns in a career.
Murray briefly was with the Kansas City Chiefs, Arizona Cardinals and Philadelphia Eagles from 2014-16.
He was last seen quarterbacking earlier this year in the now-defunct Alliance of American football with the Atlanta Legends (above) franchise. They selected Murray for the same regional interest of him having played college ball down the road in Athens, Georgia.
As for Flowers, in his time at USF he threw for 8,124 yards, 71 TDs and 23 INTs while also rushing for 3672 yards and 41 TDs.
Though he had a record-breaking career at USF (he owned or shared 34 school records), there was lots of debate about the dual-threat’s quarterback to succeed professionally. Flowers was dominant as a run-heavy QB, and he became #1 in the schools career rushing attempts, career rush yards, single season rush yards, rush yards and attempts by a quarterback, rushing touchdowns in a season, career rushing touchdowns, and yards per rush in a season.
Many scouts felt as though he needed to consider a position change from quarterback if he hopes to succeed in the NFL, which ended up happening when he was signed by the Cincinnati Bengals, as an undrafted free agent in 2018 as a running back. After being waived the following summer, the Colts signed him to the practice squad, but then released him six days later.
Now, in the second ever XFL Draft, Flowers went number 37 overall, is returning to not only the same city, but same stadium that he took four years of snaps in during college.
The XFL have continued to fill out rosters in the Tuesday draft, with numerous players from Florida or Florida schools working out regionally for all of the clubs.
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