Quinton Flowers gives USF best chance to win now

Quinton Flowers, named USF’s starting quarterback Monday night, started one game as a freshman last season.

There was never any doubt.

After a quarterback battle that commenced in the spring and carried over to the end of preseason practice Saturday, USF announced Monday night that sophomore Quinton Flowers will start the season opener against Florida A&M on Sept. 5. 

Though this may have seemed like a tight competition between Flowers and senior Steven Bench, it’s hard to justify why it was even a contest to begin with.

Sure, it’s not easy to tell Bench — who also lost out to Mike White in last year’s bid for the starting job — that he will be taking a seat right out of the gate, especially because of his tenure. But it’s pretty clear that coach Willie Taggart has set the table for Flowers to succeed, and rightfully so.

Flowers, the once-heralded four-star recruit out of Miami, is USF’s best option for the future, and to win now.

That’s not a knock against Bench, who has performed admirably in relief of failed starters and in a couple starts during his time with the Bulls since transferring from Penn State in 2013. It’s just reality.

Taggart’s new up-tempo style of offense is best suited for Flowers. In fact, one could argue that it was built around Flowers, once rated the No. 9 dual-threat QB in the nation by 247 Sports.

“I ran the offense in high school, so I’m feeling really good about it,” Flowers said Saturday when asked how he felt about his overall performance in training camp.

There was never any doubt.

Yes, his sample size is diminutive — 8-for-20 passing with 111 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions in five appearances (one start) last season. Yes, there are some who believe Flowers could be better off in another position, after he was heavily recruited as an athlete by the likes of Alabama, Florida and Texas, among others. 

But is it fair to rush to a negative judgement on a young man who just eclipsed his first year playing at the college level?

One look at his high-school statistics shows the potential Flowers has in a scheme tweaked to his strengths. As a three-year starter commanding a spread offense at Miami Jackson High, he totaled 6,042 yards passing and 2,002 rushing with 32 touchdowns.

If Flowers is eventually able to carry those numbers over, he could be the best quarterback the Bulls have had since Matt Grothe — maybe the best quarterback the program has ever seen.

For now, Flowers can be happy with being the fourth quarterback to start an opener for USF since 2012. If it’s meant to be, the pageantry will soon follow.

“Me and Steve, we just compete,” Flowers said. “We leave (the final decision) up to the coaches. Do our assignments, throw the right balls and make the right decisions.”

This time, USF made the right decision.

There was never any doubt.