CINCINNATI — Prior to Saturday night, USF quarterback Chris Oladokun had never started a game in college. He had only attempted 12 passes in his time at USF, even.
But, with Blake Barnett out with shoulder stiffness, Oladokun was the Bulls’ choice for their game at Cincinnati.
The sophomore from Tampa completed 10-of-22 passes for 165 yards and two touchdowns, including a 72-yard touchdown to Ryeshene Bronson on USF’s first posession of the game.
All that, and he didn’t even know for sure he’d be starting until close to kickoff.
“I’d probably say [I knew] Friday, maybe even [Saturday] morning,” Oladokun said. “Just because we didn’t know, with [Barnett’s] situation, what was going to happen. So, I just sort of, throughout the whole week, prepared like I was going to be the starter and I would have been prepared even if [Barnett] would have played.”
Oladokun played the first quarter and entire second half under center for the Bulls in their 35-23 loss to the Bearcats, with redshirt junior Brett Kean replacing Oladokun in the second quarter. Kean completed 4-of-10 passes with a touchdown during his time in the game.
The two quarterbacks battled for the starting job in fall camp alongside Barnett, then subsequently battled for the No. 2 position on the depth chart, though Saturday was the first time Kean saw playing time since Week 1 against FCS Elon, while Oladokun has seen time in designed packages in games against UMass and Tulsa.
But before fans and media members alike go adjusting their depth charts, which to date have listed both Oladokun and Kean as the No. 2 quarterback, coach Charlie Strong said that Oladokun receiving the majority of playing time Saturday was a matchup preference.
“It was just what they were trying to do to us,” Strong said. “Maybe with the pressure that he’s bringing, we could outrun them. And [Oladokun], he had can work the ball with his legs sometimes … maybe we could get out of danger. That’s why we ended up just going with him.”
But, for one night — well, most of one night the guy was Oladokun.
“There’s a lot to work on still,” Oladokun said. “We’re a young team — I’m one of the younger guys on the team … all in all, not a bad start. Obviously, you want to get the win as a quarterback. Getting the loss hurts, but there’s a lot to work on.”
Barnett’s status for Saturday’s noon kickoff against Temple in Philadelphia is unknown, so the possibility exists for a start by Oladokun, or even another tag-team with Kean, when the Bulls play their final road game of the season. No matter what winds up happening, USF players say they are ready.
“I’ve been with these guys since day one,” tight end Mitchell Wilcox said. “Both are very capable of doing everything we need them to do. And they both have great arms, so it’s not really a big change between quarterbacks, for me.”