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USF’s new offense takes shape under Kerwin Bell

Part of new USF offensive coordinator Kerwin Bell’s 100-play playbook includes having Johnny Ford line up as a slot receiver. ORACLE FILE PHOTO

Last year, the USF offense didn’t even have a playbook.

This year, new offensive coordinator Kerwin Bell not only has a playbook — it’s a big one.

“It’s very thick. There’s over 100 plays in it,” wide receiver Randall St. Felix said.

In recent years under former offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert, the Bulls relied on “hand signals” and “memory,” according to St. Felix.

After that experience, the addition of a playbook is a welcome sight.

“It helps a lot because if we forget something, we can just go back in the playbook instead of trying to memorize hand signals and stuff like that,” St. Felix said.

USF is only six practices into its first spring under Bell, so the offense is not where it needs to be just yet. But it’s getting close.

And, more importantly, the players are receptive to it.

We’ve put probably about 80 percent of our system in, which is a lot of ball plays, a lot of different concepts and stuff like that,” Bell said. “They’re having to learn on the run, we’re not anywhere where we need to be, but we’ve thrown a lot in and our guys are starting to pick it up.”

Part of Bell’s offense includes lining running back Johnny Ford up as a slot receiver, which is going well, according to Bell.

“I think he [Ford] really likes it,” Bell said. “He’s been off and on a little bit but he understands that we’re going to try to use him to do things. We won’t just line him up in the backfield. We’re going to make defenses find out where he’s at through motions, different formations, try to find out where he’s at, get him in space as much as we can and get him down the field.”

Last season, USF running backs caught a combined total of 12 passes. Ford only caught three of those passes, making his receiving skills an unknown.

Man, he is a good receiver,” Bell said. “That was our only question when we moved him there was ‘can he play receiver at this level?’ And man, he’s one of our top ones. The way he runs routes, his catching ability, he is really good at that.”

Ford and wide receiver Eddie McDoom, who sat out last season after transferring from Michigan late in fall camp, are set to see the ball a lot out of the slot position, and if there’s one thing fans can expect to see, it’s speed.

“A lot of speed,” St. Felix said. “Johnny Ford is fast. Eddie McDoom is fast. And they know how to run routes and they know how to get open. So it’s going to be fun seeing them get open and score a lot of touchdowns.”