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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.

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.

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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

Ex-USF star QB BJ Daniels wants XFL shot

Florida Football Insiders

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Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

A decade ago, B.J. Daniels was a hero in Green and Gold quarterbacking for the USF Bulls at Raymond James Stadium. On Saturday, he was back as one of numerous players chasing another chance to play pro football in the upcoming XFL relaunch.

Daniels was out there with over a hundred players of all positions, backgrounds and story lines trying to impress XFL league and team representatives at their “summer showcase” event being held in Tampa:

In particular, Tampa Bay’s inaugural coach and “quarterback guru,” Marc Trestman was taking a strong look at what Daniels might be able to do for their first season starting next spring. Trestman has formerly been the Bears head coach and coach of the “Grey Cup” winning Montreal Allouettes of the CFL. However, he’s mostly known for his work, as a QB coach and offensive coordinator in the NFL over the past three decades.

A former start at Tallahassee’s Lincoln high school, Daniels quarterbacked at USF between 2009-12 and led the Bulls to a lot of success over those four seasons. He left Tampa with the second most passing yards and at that time, and the most rushing yards by any QB in program history. Also throw in, the historic wins at Florida State in 2009 and at Notre Dame in the opening game of the 2011 season, and there are plenty of memories for Bulls fans.

Daniels was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in 2013 but they released him late in his rookie year, but he was picked up (above) by the Seattle Seahawks. Daniels was on their roster during the playoff run that season, when the Seahawks eventually won the Super Bowl over the Denver Broncos. Daniels then bounced on and off several other NFL rosters as teams try him at receiver and running back, as well as quarterback. He actually did play a few series in the Texans finale’ game of 2017 at quarterback.

After trying out for the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the CFL last summer where he was released before playing in regular season games, Daniels eventually ended up in the other Spring league that launched this past January. The AAF’s Salt Lake City Stallions ended up taking Daniels, as part of the leagues separate quarterback only draft. However, Daniels was injured again, before playing in a game and placed on injured reserve for the season.

Yet, Saturday he was out there in the Tampa Bay heat firing passes in front of the likes of XFL Commissioner and former NFL quarterback Oliver Luck, as well. So too was other names like former NFL and Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett, who desperately wants another chance in the upcoming spring League next February.

And, while the decision will ultimately come down to football skill, and the ability of Daniels to be healthy, it’s most likely the soon to be 30 year old Daniels will get a shot with the Tampa Bay franchise. This, if for no other reason than, thousands of local USF fans will be inclined to come did the stadium or at least watch on TV, if he’s under center at least some of the time.

And that’s something that Luck, owner of the XFL Vince McMahon and the league itself, will need a lot of next February.

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