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USF Bulls

Flowers is new dad-Bulls look for new start

Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire
Christopher Fischer

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While their quarterback accepts the new role of becoming a dad for the first time, his USF Bulls are looking at a new life to the season. Saturday, American Athletic Conference play begins for USF on the road in Cincinnati. It will mark the first time Quinton Flowers takes the gameday field as a proud poppa after the birth of his baby girl on Tuesday.

“He’s a new father, (has) a different perspective on life now. He’s got to grow up even more now and he’s got to do a great job to be a great father, and I know that he will,”said coach Willie Taggart.

Now, Flowers has to nurture two futures. The Bulls season ahead seems a little less daunting of the two for the Junior signal caller. He’ll get the opportunity to learn from the past as far as USF is concerned. Yet, he won’t want to dwell on the recent history of the blowout loss to FSU last Saturday.

As Taggart put it on Tuesday, “That’s in the past, and were looking toward the future.” It’s been emphasized time and time again this season, USF is trying to do something the program has never done.

“We want to win a conference championship, that’s the goal,” said Taggart.

Saturday will be instrumental in trying to keep the trajectory moving upward for the program. Both the Bulls and Bearcats walk in to this AAC-East division showdown with a 3-1 record. For Cincinnati, they will be out for redemption following last season’s 65-27 spanking Flowers and the Bulls delivered. Flowers tossed 4 touchdowns in that meeting, and this year he’s capable of doing it again with the “Gulf Coast Offense” striking more than any other team in the AAC.

The Bearcats have been using a quarterback carousel through four games this season. But that doesn’t matter to a USF defense that looked like poached “Bull Sharks” by FSU who put 55 on the board, rather than what they’ve displayed early in the season (Surrendering 19 PPG in first 3 games).

Cincinnati head coach Tommy Tuberville said of USF, “They have the most athletes in the conference.” And the Bulls will need one of those guys in particular to step up and make plays, and no I don’t mean Marlon Mack. It’s Flowers, who needs to bounce back and show the Bearcats who their daddy is. He was just 5 of 14 passing for 160 yards against the Seminoles, and majority of that yardage came on the first play of the game.

The vision, the talent and the expectation is all there as conference play begins for the Bulls. Now it’s up to Flowers to provide his own type delivery.

A native Floridian who graduated from Clearwater High School and the University of Florida, Chris Fischer has spent nearly 15 years in Sports Televison, including the last five as Sports Reporter and Anchor with the CBS affiliate in Tampa Bay-WTSP. He is a multi time AP Sports and Local Emmy award winner and will be seen this season as a sideline reporter on CBS-TV’s network coverage of the NFL.Chris brings enthusiasm and passion (particularly when it comes to his Gators) to College and NFL coverage to F.F.I.

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USF Bulls

Bulls AD Kelly continues indoor facility pitch

Abbey Radeka

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USA Today Sports

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.

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USF Bulls

USF QB Blake Barnett excited for new offensive scheme

Abbey Radeka

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

After ending last season with an injury, second year USF QB Blake Barnett has some unfinished business to take care of this upcoming season, and he’s going to use his new offense to do it.

At the “American Kickoff” luncheon on Tuesday, Barnett was asked by Tampa Bay Times USF Beat writer Joey Knight, about his thoughts on the Bull’s offensive scheme under the new offensive coordinator, Kerwin Bell. He had a lot of positive things to say.

Barnett emphasized that it was really important that this offense allows him to spread the ball around. He added:

“The offense itself is very diverse. We can run a single play out of six, seven formations, put motions involved…put different personnel and switch it in. There’s really endless opportunities and options… so it’s going to do a really good jobs of not only showing our strengths, but exposing our opponents weaknesses.”

This season is a critical one for the Bulls, and especially for head coach, Charlie Strong. Replacing former OC Sterlin Gilbert with Bell could be the move that will make his third year leading the program a more successful one.

While Strong has had a bad history with hiring OCs, Bell has proven much more promising than the less than elite hires of his past. He is a name older football fans in the state of Florida remember well — and fondly — due to his years as the Florida Gators’ star quarterback. Had Florida not been hit with NCAA and SEC penalties due to various violations under Charley Pell (whose tenure preceded Bell’s playing career) and then Galen Hall, Bell might have led Florida onto the field in one or more Sugar Bowls He was robbed of that opportunity, but the quality of his performances spoke for itself.

Bell, as head coach, led Valdosta State to an unbeaten season this past year and the Division II national championship. He has been around the block, coaching at various levels of college ball plus the CFL and high school. He is 53 years old and a true survivor in the football industry. 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 — not bad for a seventh-round pick at No. 180 in 1988.

Bell and Barnett give Strong and the rest of the USF roster a reason to be hopeful that this will be the bounce-back season in Tampa.

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