The USF football team did not execute well enough on offense last season, and offensive coordinator Charlie Weis Jr. recognized that work needed to be done, primarily at the quarterback position.
“When you go 1-8, or whatever it was, and you don’t have a lot of success offensively, the quarterback position is the No. 1 position that you need to look at,” Weis Jr. said Thursday afternoon. “That’s the No. 1 position in the sport quite frankly that can be the difference maker.”
Weis Jr. touched on some of the quarterbacks who have been competing for the job in spring practice, including sophomore transfer Jarren Williams and junior Cade Fortin.
Williams, who transferred from Miami in the offseason, was brought in to improve the Bulls’ offense. His starting experience with the Hurricanes is what caught the eye of the coaching staff, according to Weis Jr.
“We wanted to add somebody who had starting experience, I think that was a big thing that we looked for, and obviously [Williams] did that starting at Miami,” Weis Jr. said. “[We] just went back and watched the tape of him, to see how he was in his time there.
“We just saw a very productive player that can make all the throws we want in our offense, that has the leadership ability … that can lead an offense and lead a team.”
In his one year as a starter with the Hurricanes, Williams passed for 2,187 yards and 19 touchdowns.
Fortin has also made an impression on Weis Jr., especially after looking at the progress he’s made since last season.
“Cade has been unbelievable,” Weis Jr. said. “No. 1 thing with him is processing. He spent a year learning the offense, how to battle through some injuries and different things last year. You can just see that year in the system has made him so much better.”
The improvement of Fortin is a pleasant sight for USF coaches and fans, and it may be due in part to former USF quarterback BJ Daniels joining the coaching staff as an offensive analyst.
“I really can just go up to [Daniels] and say, ‘Hey BJ, what are you seeing so far?’ and he’ll give [us] his notepad [that says] ‘Here’s five things I’m seeing that need to get corrected,’” Weis Jr. said. “He does a great job of working directly with me in the quarterback room.”
Aside from the addition of Daniels, coach Jeff Scott has also been working closely with the offense. Weis Jr. said Scott has helped guide the staff toward what works best.
“Coach Scott has been one of the best offensive minds in football, and to me when you have somebody like that in your building, let’s use everybody to the best of their ability,” he said. “I think it’s a great thing for him to be involved to give his game plan ideas, to give his thoughts on the offense, what we need to do.”
Bringing Daniels to the staff and having Scott be more hands on with the offense could add to the team’s overall success come fall.
“I’m young, I’m still learning, and I know that, and so having somebody like him, who’s done so many great things, and then with some of our new staff members too, just really collaborating on this whole thing,” Weis Jr. said. “You know it’s not about one person, it’s about our team, what’s best for our team, and what’s best for our team is having coach Scott involved in our receiver play and in our offense in general.”
After a disappointing season like last year, Weis Jr. stressed the importance of looking back and watching the tape in order to flip the script.
“Anytime you go through a season like that, or really just any season in general you need to do a good hard look in the mirror and look back at the season,” he said. “We went back and reviewed the tape, we watched every single play about three or four times, to go through and find out exactly what went wrong.
“Now that we’re in spring practice we know exactly what we need to work on to get everything right and to get us to where we need to go.”