TAMPA — Jeff Scott made it clear to the assembled media at his press conference Tuesday: Jordan McCloud is the Bulls’ quarterback.
That did not come as a surprise. After all, McCloud led the USF offense for all but the final series in a 44-24 loss to East Carolina last Saturday evening at Raymond James Stadium.
The redshirt sophomore set career highs in completions (26) and passing yards (298) and had a particularly impressive first half when the Bulls piled up 297 yards. McCloud, who fumbled once and was sacked four times, did not throw a touchdown pass or an interception.
“I thought he did a real good job with a lot of things last week,” said Scott. “He didn’t play a perfect game by any means. The fumble was very disappointing, but he made some real good decisions. I felt his timing with the wideouts was the best since I have been here. That is something to build off of.”
Frankly, it is now McCloud’s job to lose. It is not a situation where he will be pulled after a couple of bad series, though the first-year coach noted it is “not a season-long contract” and that he “reserves the right” to make a change if things are not going well.
McCloud and the Bulls have been preparing for a trip to Philadelphia to take on a Temple team that finally took the field last week. Thanks to the virus, the Owls experienced many stops and starts during preseason camp. Combined with non-conference cancelations the month of September was a washout as far playing any games.
You would never know the Owls went through what they did based on how they performed in a 31-29 loss at Navy last Saturday. That was especially the case with an offense that marched at least 70 yards on all five scoring drives.
Say what you want about Navy’s struggles on defense this season. The thing to remember is it took until October 10 before Temple played a game.
“They looked like they were in mid-season form offensively,” said Scott. “They remind me a lot of Boston College the last few years we played them when I was at Clemson. They are tough, physical, well coached, a really good scheme. The only thing different is, I believe Temple has a better quarterback and better skill players than Boston College had the past couple of years.”
The offense is also largely a veteran group. Quarterback Anthony Russo and receiver Branden Mack are fifth-year seniors. Receiver Jadan Blue is a fourth-year junior and eight of 10 linemen on the two-deep are at least juniors.
Mack and Blue make for an impressive duo. The former is 6-foot-5 and caught 59 passes for 904 yards (15.3) and seven TDs last season. He was 7-80-1 against Navy.
Blue, who was 5-40-0 against the Midshipmen, checks in at six feet and more of a possession-type receiver. His 95 receptions last season were second in the American and his 1,067 yards were fourth. He caught four touchdown passes.
“When you watch them play, they get after it,” said Scott of Mack and Blue. “It will be an extreme challenge for our secondary, along with their power football in the run game. I really believe outside of Notre Dame, on film, this is the best offense we will have faced to this point.”
Running back Ra’Man Davis piled up 936 yards and eight touchdowns as a freshman last season.
Kickoff is noon and will be available in ESPN+. In the Tampa Bay region, it will be broadcast on 95.3 FM and 620 AM.