South Florida looks to get its offense in gear and that may lead to a change at quarterback when the Bulls host FCS member South Carolina State on Saturday night in their last tune-up for American Athletic Conference play. USF has managed 10 points combined in a pair of losses to open the season and senior quarterback Blake Barnett struggled to get going while freshman Jordan McCloud led the Bulls to a score in last week’s 14-10 setback at Georgia Tech.
“Jordan has not played as much as Blake has played, but the opportunities he’s been given, he’s taken full advantage of it and has done a really good job,” South Florida coach Charlie Strong told reporters on Monday. “We can’t be afraid to make that change.” Barnett is 25-of-50 for 188 yards along with a pair of interceptions, getting sacked six times, and McCloud is 7-of-8 for another 112 yards with a touchdown while the Bulls have struggled mightily to get anything done on the ground at just 2.2 yards per carry. The bright spot last week was USF’s defense, which gave up 435 yards in a 49-0 loss to Wisconsin on Aug. 30 before shutting out Georgia Tech in the second half to give the Bulls a chance for a comeback. South Carolina State, which lost at USF’s AAC rival Central Florida 38-0 last season, defeated Wofford 28-13 in its opener and rolled over Division II Lane College 34-0 last week.
TV: 6 p.m. ET, ESPN3. LINE: No Line
ABOUT SOUTH CAROLINA STATE (2-0): Freshman quarterback Corey Fields threw for 172 yards (10-of-21) in his first collegiate start last week after junior Tyrece Nick was 12-of-26 for 201 yards with a TD as the starter in the opener. Whoever gets the call for the Bulldogs will have two prime targets as senior De’Montrez Burroughs (six catches, 133 yards) and freshman Shaquan Davis (eight, 158) are major threats. Junior running backs Datron James (92 yards) and Labron Morris (72) run behind an experienced line led by preseason All-MEAC senior Alex Taylor, who was named conference Offensive Lineman of the Week Monday.
ABOUT SOUTH FLORIDA (0-2): Senior running back Jordan Cronkrite, who rushed for 1,121 yards and nine touchdowns last season, has been held to just 26 on 18 carries in the first two contests. Senior tight end Mitchell Wilcox (four catches, 71 yards), an NFL prospect, leads the targets in the early going while converted running back Johnny Ford (four, 23, TD) and fellow sophomore receiver Randall St. Felix (six, 59) expect to be major weapons as the season goes along. Senior linebacker Patrick Macon, an Oklahoma State transfer, boasts 20 tackles and a sack in two games but will have to miss the first half Saturday after being ejected late in the Georgia Tech contest.
1. USF senior DB K.J. Sails, a transfer from North Carolina, recorded his first career interception in last week’s loss.
2. South Carolina State senior LB Johnell Brown has 13 tackles, two sacks and an interception in the first two games.
3. Strong and Bulldogs’ coach Buddy Pough were on the staff together at South Carolina under Lou Holtz from 1999-2002.