Willie Taggart put an end to the Bulls' offseason quarterback competition last night, naming Mike White the starter for USF's opener against Western Carolina. White had been neck and neck with Steven Bench since the end of the 2013 season, and although we got a small hint that the former had the edge when USF released their latest depth chart, Taggart insisted that the job was still up for grabs. Curiously enough, Brett McMurphy gave us a spoiler last night before the USF football Twitter account confirmed it.
If you've blocked it out of your memory by now, White had his redshirt burned as a true freshman late in the Bulls' seventh game against Louisville last season, and started the rest of the way through. He played about as well as could be expected given his situation and the Bulls' no-good-very-bad offense, including what was by far the best performance by a USF quarterback last season in his first start at Houston. His stats after that game weren't pretty, but he was easily the most effective of the four QBs that saw playing time in 2013-- Bench included.
White has already taken strides to correct some of his bigger issues from last season: adding 25 pounds to his formerly 186-pound frame, and improving his decision making. His comments in Joey Knight's writeup bode well for the upcoming season: "Being a quarterback, you've got to realize that not every play is gonna be a 15-yard completion. There's gonna be some times you need to throw it away and live to see another down."
That's encouraging. White threw nine picks in his five starts, though of course some of that can be attributed to constantly playing from behind. With a better understanding of the playbook and more talent around him, he'll hopefully be able to afford to be more cautious and patient with the football.
It'll be interesting to see the trickle-down effect this has for the rest of the Bulls' quarterbacks. Even if White performs well enough to secure the job, we'll likely see occasional packages designed for the more mobile Bench. Does that mean that Quinton Flowers takes a redshirt year as a result? Either way, the situation is still fluid, and I can't imagine that Taggart would hesitate to play either backup if White were to struggle. After all, Coach T has been proven wrong before.
But White is more proven than any option the Bulls had going into last season, and the need for stability at the quarterback position is much greater now than it was before. His development will play a huge role in how much the Bulls improve in 2014-- and, perhaps, beyond.
For now, though, we have one less mystery to solve before the season begins. 12 days, y'all. Get excited.