Spring practice begins today so we will breakdown each position group as we gear up for football season. Note: We will not guess on what impact freshmen who are not on campus yet will have on the team.
Position Coach: Charlie Weis Jr. (First season at USF)
Key Losses: Blake Barnett (40-77, 434 yards, 4 touchdowns, 2 interceptions)
Key Returners: Jordan McCloud (124-224, 1429 yards, 12 touchdowns, 8 interceptions) Kirk Rygol (12-24, 170 yards, 2 touchdowns)
Key Additions: Cade Fortin (University of North Carolina Transfer)
The Bulls will begin spring the same way they spent most of the 2019 season, with only two scholarship quarterbacks. Unlike 2019, both Quarterbacks *knocks on wood* should be healthy as they battle for the starting position. Injuries plagued USF at the position throughout last year. Blake Barnett was lost for the season late in game four against SMU. Jordan McCloud fought through nagging injuries for much of the season.
McCloud looks to build on a season where he showed flashes of potential as both a passer and a runner. Prior to his injuries, McCloud was a dynamic runner and provided a spark to the offense. He had some typical freshman struggles and his injuries probably stunted his progression somewhat. He struggled late in the season with accuracy and the ability to push the ball down the field. McCloud gets a clean slate heading into spring with the new staff. Jeff Scott has stated that McCloud will be in a battle for the starting position with newcomer Cade Fortin.
Fortin was a highly regarded recruit coming out high school even though he was injured for much of his senior year. Rated a four star by ESPN, Fortin signed with Larry Fedora at North Carolina and saw some playing time his freshman season, including a 276-yard, one touchdown effort against NC State. Fedora was fired after the season and UNC hired Mack Brown. Brown signed quarterback Sam Howell as the marquee player in his first class as Tar Heel head coach. When Howell arrived for fall camp, Fortin saw the writing on the wall and transferred to a junior college. He received his AA in December and transferred to USF with immediate eligibility and three years left on his clock.
Kirk Rygol returns after seeing playing time in several games throughout the 2019 season. Rygol displayed the ability to throw the ball 1000 mph regardless of his distance from the intended receiver. He played well in his limited opportunities and moved the offense. He and fellow walk-on Augie DeBiase will get a chance to cement their spots on the depth chart this spring before a pair of talented freshmen arrive.
Jeff Scott and Charlie Weis Jr. had somewhat similar offenses at Clemson and Florida Atlantic. One of the biggest weapons of both offenses were the run-pass option (RPO) schemes. Being a heavy RPO team requires a quarterback that can make quick decisions and be accurate with their throws. Whichever quarterback can excel in these two areas will probably have a big lead heading into the summer.