Another week of looking to bounce back

Both Blake Barnett (pictured) and Jordan McCloud are not 100 percent heading into Saturday’s game at UConn. ORACLE PHOTO/LEDA ALVIM

USF is facing a team this weekend that has historically performed poorly. UConn is currently 1-3, and the Huskies are coming off a 1-11 season last year.

The Bulls have a chance to extend UConn’s misery Saturday at Rentschler Field (TV: CBS Sports streaming — CBSSN tape delay/Radio: WDAE-AM 620). Saturday’s game has been moved to noon instead of the original 7 p.m. kickoff time.

But it won’t be an easy task for USF due to its current run against FBS teams.

The Bulls, also 1-3, are coming off a 48-21 defeat to SMU. USF has a nine-game losing streak against FBS opponents.

As it stands now, the team is in a poor position, according to offensive coordinator Kerwin Bell.

“We are who we are right now. We’re not a very good football team, I’m going to say it up front,” Bell said. “We’re not going to sit around and continue to be the way we are. ”

Already struggling on the field, USF also has two quarterbacks who are not 100 percent, due to injury. 

Senior quarterback Blake Barnett, who threw for three touchdowns against SMU, has not been able to practice this week due to a high-ankle sprain suffered in the game against the Mustangs.

Freshman quarterback Jordan McCloud, who came off with a wrist contusion against SMU, is expected to start against UConn.

“He’s tough enough and he wants to go do it,” coach Charlie Strong said. “He’ll be able to go get it done.”

But there is no guarantee that either of the quarterbacks will be fully fit. Bell said sophomore quarterback Kirk Rygol will most likely be the emergency third choice in the chance that neither Barnett or McCloud are able to go. 

“Kirk is a guy we have a lot of confidence in,” Bell said. “Kid can really throw it, he can really spin it and he’s got a great feel for the game … so we feel good about him going in as a guy available for us.”

There is a quarterback plan in place, but Bell said there will be some personnel changes to his offense, specifically with his receivers.

He mentioned sophomore walk-on wide receiver Bryce Miller would start on Saturday. Miller caught one of the three touchdown passes against SMU, his first with USF.

“He’s a hard-nosed football player, just good at football,” Bell said. “Not the biggest, not the fastest, but man, he gets open.”

Bell said he was frustrated with the way his offense has played so far and he wants to make the changes needed — whether it’s personnel or tactics.

The coaching staff, however, needs to work with the personnel in order to be successful, according to Bell.

“As a coach, what you’ve got to do is fit that personnel,” Bell said. “And the great thing about this system is it’s so varied. We don’t have to just stay with eight little plays. We can vary to more of a spread or more of a pro-style type.”

Defensive coordinator Brian Jean-Mary is also rethinking his approach.

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting the same result,” Jean-Mary said. “We didn’t like the way we came out and performed, so we switched up a few things in practice.”

He said he changed the way his team has practiced this week — an increased level of competition while reducing the number of reps. Jean-Mary said he wanted his defense to be fresh for Saturday.

Overall, the general consensus from the USF coaching staff is to expect to see a different team against UConn. It’s all a matter of getting done what’s necessary before Saturday, according to Strong.

“We’re not concerned,” Strong said. “We know what we’ve got to get done and just get our team ready to go play.”