From Tampa... The Daily Stampede Group. An unrehearsed program featuring inside opinions and analysis on major issues of the day. Here’s the moderator, John McLaughlin.
ISSUE NUMBER ONE!!! A season of great uncertainty! USF had a clear quarterback battle for the first time in many years, but Jordan McCloud has won out... for now. Will he keep the job and why ELEANOR CLIFT!!!!!
Nathan Bond: I’m #TeamJordan, and it appears that may have been the right call — for at least one snap. We’ve barely seen what a healthy McCloud can do. I’m excited to see him in this offense. I think McCloud and Alcorn State transfer Noah Johnson were very close. I watched Noah’s Alcorn highlights again and was amazed. Either way, it’s a huge upgrade from last season.
Nick Simon: zzzzzzzzz… *gets prodded with stick* … huh, what? Oh, we’re actually gonna play, huh? OK, uhhhh, quarterbacks. Jordan McCloud is getting the start, but I think we’ll see both Johnson and Fortin out there before the final whistle. Considering his experience, I’m still leaning towards Johnson as the guy for the duration of the season (however long that is).
Robert Steeg: We found out Jordan is getting the nod against The Citadel. I don’t think that’s indicative of a season trend, but I think we will see Noah Johnson eventually earn the starting role.
Seth Varnadore: McCloud will start, but I would expect to see multiple guys early in the season. Hopefully one of them separates from the pack.
Anthony Vito: We found out McCloud is the opener, but the battle rages on! Noah Johnson still feels like the guy with winning experience, a solid arm, and the legs to move if necessary. Give me the guy who can sell the read and let’s get WEIRD with the position and playbook! All bets are off! Show me what you got!
Collin Sherwin: It’s McCloud because the players that were brought in weren’t good enough to beat him out. I know there’s a lot of people saying he was hurt last year and that’s why he didn’t perform very well, but I’m skeptical there. I think he just doesn’t do much at an elite level (not a huge arm, not elusive like Quinton, not freakishly athletic), and kind of is what he is. I thought the one thing we learned last season is he’s probably not the quarterback that can win you a conference title.
I like him as a human and a leader very much. He’s been fantastic in everything he’s done away from the field this off-season. I very much hope I’m wrong and that he blows us away with his performance under new coaching this season. I’m just skeptical he can be the guy, and I think USF is ACTIVE in the transfer portal ahead of next season.
ISSUE NUMBER TWO!!!! A new head coach and a new program culture. Some expected the same kind of rigid, old-timey weirdness of Dabo Swinney, but Jeff Scott has been a pleasant surprise so far. Is the new culture for real, and can it meet the unique needs of today’s college athletes MICHAEL BARONE!!!!
Nathan: It’s like deja vu all over again. This time, though, it’s legit. The players have a voice and a head coach who completely backs them up. That’s huge right now as other college coaches have shied away from being outspoken, and supportive of the #BLM movement. The players trust Scott, and so far he’s met the challenge.
Nick: More important than any cliché about culture or program building has been Jeff publicly supporting his guys throughout a summer of protests. Especially when a lot of his peers in the coaching world have shown their ass. From walking alongside his players during K.J. Sails’ Unity Walk to canceling practice a few weeks ago after the Jacob Blake shooting in Wisconsin, he’s shown that his guys are at the forefront of everything. That directly ties into his aspirations of making this a program led by the players.
Seth: I think we have to wait and see what happens when they lose a few games. I think Scott will do a great job resetting the culture, but it takes time. Everybody is happy now, but what happens after you lose a few games and the honeymoon period is over?
Steeg: I think there has been a culture shift. The long pedigree of how Clemson built their progrum up is getting its foundation this year. There’s going to be a hiccup or two, but all in all, CJS put his money where his mouth is when he walked alongside K.J. in the unity walk and let the players lead by example in the community.
Vito: Coach Scott has proved to me he’s the guy to shift the culture this offseason alone. A guy who stands up for his guys and says all the right things is just what you need in this progrum, and I don’t plan on results during this WEIRD pandemic season to alter my opinion in a Year -1 situation.
Collin: I think it is real, and it can meet the players’ needs! I think Jeff Scott was a tremendous hire, and I’m proud of the way the program has handled itself during The Worst Year of Everyone’s Life. I’m very, ahem, bullish on the future of USF football and USF athletics in general.
But that recruiting ranking still sucks, and the depth chart makes me wince. We’re not going to be very good at football this year.
NEXT ISSUE!!!! On a scale of 1 to 22, 1 being complete impossibility and 22 being absolute metaphysical certitude, rate the chances of the college football season being played to conclusion JACK GERMOND!!!!
Nathan: 22. It’s a mortal lock. A few games will be canceled, but we will see the end of the season.
Nick: I say 6. To me, it’s still absurd that we’re still trying to make this happen with games being postponed as we speak... but hey, gotta earn that sweet, sweet revenue at the expense of unpaid labor during a freaking pandemic, AMIRITE GUYS? I give it until mid-October before everyone decides to punt.
Seth: 19. I believe a full season gets played barring a huge setback. Central Arkansas has played two games with no positive tests, and they don’t have nearly the resources that most FBS programs possess. There may be some canceled/delayed games, but once teams get to their conference schedules, a season being completed becomes more likely.
Steeg: USF gets to three conference games before it gets turned off and punted into next year. My rating is a 14 because someone (SEC) will play a full season of some sort.
Vito: Well, I didn’t think we’d get this far, so I’ll turn this one up to 11! Between some conferences starting last week, or this week, or in two weeks, there will be some teams that make it happen — kinda, sorta, maybe. You may get a bunch a games get canceled, and you won’t convince me the playoff is a real thing, but who cares! Again, let’s get WEIRD!
Collin: 16.6412. The new testing regimens and access to them, combined with the need of administrators for cash begotten by amateurs putting themselves in harm’s way, means we’re playing these games.
ISSUE NUMBER FOUR!!! These players! Many position groups that seemed to have talent struggled last year, particularly on offense. Is there truly a lack of talent on the roster, or were they receiving subpar coaching MORTON KONDRACKE!!!!
Nathan: We’ll see a jump from the wide receivers with proper coaching. I mean, look at DeVontres Dukes finally getting first team reps consistently. In the trenches, though, there may be a lack of talent right now that coaching can’t fix. If Coach Mo (Allen Mogridge) can turn Michael Wiggs and Jarrett Hopple into serviceable starters along the offensive line, then we’re in good hands for the future of that position.
Nick: Ehh, a mix of both. While last year’s roster certainly wasn’t going to compete for a conference championship or anything like that, they weren’t made any better by the previous staff, and in many ways they regressed (See Charlie Williams and his receivers).
Seth: The team talent level has been on a steady decline since 2016. Recruiting has followed the same trend. There have been some coaching issues in the past, but if the issue was purely coaching, then why did the new staff hit the transfer portal so hard?
Steeg: I think it’s more on the coaches than the players most times. The coaches need to understand a player’s strengths and weaknesses better than anyone, and rather than shoehorning a system in where it won’t work, you need to adjust it. Now, are there some players who have not panned out yet? Absolutely. Can that be fixed with good coaching? Absolutely.
Vito: The new coordinator Band-Aid didn’t work, fairly or unfairly. Plus injuries plagued the team, there was a lack of scholarship QBs, there were bad situational special teams at times, and — oh wait, I promised I wouldn’t make excuses! I’m not saying last year could’ve/should’ve been better, but here we are. So let’s see if a younger, hungrier staff starting from square one, that is willing to adapt to personnel, can shuffle up the talent fortune... especially with some gifts from the portal. (FTR I believe!)
Collin: Nah, these dudes aren’t good enough. You might seem some leaps defensively, but that offensive line last year was just atrocious, and the skill guys outside of Ford… wait, Ford isn’t even first on the depth chart?? AWW COME ON!
These are the guys that were either a) a part of it or b) not good enough to beat out last year’s crew. It’s gonna be a long year, boys. Let’s hope they can steal a couple.
LAST ISSUE!!! PREDICTIONS!!!! What does success look like for USF football this year? What will their record be, and does the record really even matter MONICA CROWLEY!!!!
Nathan: USF football needs to take the Brian Gregory approach. Build the culture from the ground up. Improve every day, and it’ll pay off in the long run. I think Jeff Scott knows this isn’t a one-year fix, especially during a pandemic. With Michael Kelly and Jeff Scott running the show, I have no doubt this will turn around. Patience is key.
Nick: Nope, the record does not matter. Not with a first-year staff that has only really gotten to see what they have on the field in the last month. Just show tangible improvement from the first snap of The Citadel game to the last snap of, well, whenever the season ends and we’re gucci.
Seth: A successful season would be 3-4 wins, resetting the culture, and finding out if you have a winning QB on campus.
Steeg: F—- IT, UNDEFEATED UNTIL THE SEASON GETS CANNED, NOTRE DAME FORFEITS DUE TO COVID, I DON’T CARE JUST GET THE IPF PRIMED AND READY TO GO
Vito: This season is so impossible to judge based on no spring practice and altered fall practice. Just let me see progression from Game 1 to Game 11. Let’s see two systems that can work. Let’s see the players have a little swagger out there and find out what “the new South Florida” is, or can be, all about. Anything more than zero wins is a success in my book.
Collin: I brought along a clip, John, can we show it?
John: Of course.
Collin: Let’s just hope these freshman on the two-deep get plenty of burn to help them be part of a winning team someday. But as long as they don’t go winless, whatever happens this season is fine as long as they play hard. Having fun and getting some experience won’t suck either.