Barnett buys into Bell’s new offense

Quarterback Blake Barnett takes snaps working with USF's new offensive scheme in spring practice. ORACLE PHOTO/BRIAN HATAB

One thing that has been made clear by new offensive coordinator Kerwin Bell is that USF’s offense will be run differently next season.

Returning quarterback Blake Barnett doesn’t want to dwell on the past.

He said Bell’s new scheme gives the signal callers more of an opportunity to open up the offense to its playmakers.

“I don’t really want to talk too much about last year’s offense,” Barnett said. “This year’s offense is more of a pro-style concept, which is good, because it gives the quarterbacks a better idea that when we go out to a play, to execute on a higher level.”

Bell will look to use the many weapons the Bulls have on offense in ways never thought of last season. With Barnett remaining under center, Jordan Cronkrite and Johnny Ford will continue to be a dual threat out of the backfield, but Bell has something more in mind for Ford than just rushing the ball.

“Man, he [Ford] has been a surprise,” Bell said. “He has been one of our best man beaters. He runs really crisp routes. It’s unbelievable how he has caught on to it. We have sold him on the fact that this position uses all of his talents … With him and Cronkrite being in the backfield, it is going to really utilize the talent we have on offense.”

Bell plans on using Ford as a slot receiver even though the sophomore speedster caught just three passes out of the backfield last season.

Another playmaker returning to the offense from last season is wide receiver Randall St. Felix who averaged 20.6 yards per reception and caught four touchdowns last season.

“He [St. Felix] is a big strong kid, really fast with big strong hands,” Barnett said. “We are taking the next step, getting into this offense, and obviously what makes this offense so effective is giving the playmakers the ball.”

While the offense will have three of its top playmakers back from last season (Cronkrite, Ford and St. Felix), the ways those players will be put into positions of success will be different than a year ago.

Bell’s offense employs two playbooks — one is traditional and the other shows players a video of what the play should look like. Last season, the Bulls offense relied primarily on a hand-signal offense.

“We have a video playbook and a written playbook,” Bell said. “They can have copies of the plays. It tells them all the details into the routes and the plays and the video they can actually see the play being run the proper way. I just think it is a great teaching tool.”

USF’s offense drew a fair amount of criticism last season because of what some thought was predictable playcalling. With Bell’s new playbooks in place, the Bulls will have a wider variety of options this season.

“We are going to be a lot more effective because there are a lot of plays in this playbook,” Barnett said. “It’s very dynamic. There are a plethora of plays, so we are not hurting for plays and endless options of what to do.”