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Texas “Two Step” USF out- Gators in on Longhorn schedules

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
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Fans of the USF Bulls and coach Charlie Strong were looking forward to a home game with his former School, Texas, but the Longhorns have done a “Texas Two-Step.” This as, Texas is apparently no longer interested in playing USF three times, and simultaneously, they have announced they’ll add the most prominent school in the state, the University of Florida, in a new series.

First, the official word came down Friday morning that Texas had decided to only host USF September of 2020 and exercise the buyout penalty to not play the Bulls at Raymond James Stadium the following year. So, the Green and Gold will now get $1.9 million to play the one game in Austin.

Next, the University of Florida chimed in with an announcement that they will be playing the ‘Horns starting in 2030 for a home-and-home series:

The Gators will get the first game at home, and we sarcastically say… “mark your calendars,” for September 7th of 2030. Florida will then, travel to Austin to play the Longhorns on September 6th, 2031.

This came on the heals of an announcement Wednesday that Florida would for the first time play the Colorado Buffaloes in a home-and-home in September of 2028 and 2029.

Further, Gators AD Scott Stricklin took to social media Friday to answer a couple of questions about his new scheduling philosophy that he is putting into practice by lining up big named schools well in advance:

Coincidentally, USF will begin a three-game series with Florida by hosting the Gators in 2021 and then returning one of the games the following year in Gainesville. However USF and Strong now need to try to find opponents for 2022 and 2023, as Texas has dropped them.

Strong was 16-21 in three seasons in Austin and was fired in December of 2016.

The Bulls currently have only one out of conference opponent, for now, in 2023, and that’s playing a game at Western Kentucky.

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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