USF football questions ahead of Week 2

Quarterback Jordan McCloud went 11-of-16 for 68 yards and one touchdown on Saturday. He’s in front in the race for the permanent starting job, but there are three others who are also in contention USF ATHLETICS PHOTOUSF’s 21-point win over The Citadel on Saturday was a step in the right direction, but now the Bulls face a significantly more challenging test — traveling to South Bend and playing No. 7 Notre Dame.

With The Fighting Irish on the clock, here are some of the biggest questions heading into Week 2.

Who will be the starting quarterback?

Jordan McCloud played most of the game, going 11-of-16 with a touchdown and three carries for 3 yards. His performance against the Bulldogs put him at the top of the USF quarterback rankings, but his starting role isn’t fully guaranteed.

Two other quarterbacks got some time as well. Noah Johnson went 3-of-4 for 24 yards and made seven carries for 49 yards and a touchdown. Freshman Katravis Marsh also played six snaps going 4-of-5 for 10 yards and was sacked for a loss of seven.

Those three quarterbacks are now officially in contention for the starting role. Cade Fortin is also expected to compete, but he was ruled out of Saturday’s game prior to kick. Once Fortin returns, expect a four-man race.

What will the backfield look like?

There were a plethora of ball carriers with 11 guys carrying the rock. The two leading backs were Kelley Joiner and Johnny Ford. 

Joiner had a touch less than Ford but still carried the ball eight times for 87 yards and a touchdown. Ford carried nine times for 71 yards and a touchdown. 

Freshman Brian Battie carried the ball three times, picking up 43 yards.

Oregon transfer Darrian Felix, who received high praise during fall camp, ran for 11 yards on three attempts and is expected to become a pivotal part of USF’s offense.

Similar to the game against The Citadel, we could see a mix of backs against the Fighting Irish.

How well will USF’s defense fare against a different offense?

USF’s defense slowed The Citadel’s run-heavy offense — the Bulls allowed 3.7 yards per carry.

Notre Dame runs a pro-style offense, something USF will have to prepare differently for. Linebacker Antonio Grier led the Bulls’ defense that held The Citadel to 200 rushing yards on 54 attempts.

USF handled the option well, but it’s yet to be seen how it fares against a considerably tougher offense.

How well will the secondary play?

Against The Citadel, the secondary held quarterback Brandon Rainey to 4-of-18 for 84 yards. Although the secondary was not tested as much, it did its job in locking up Citadel’s pass game.

Notre Dame’s Ian Book will present a considerable challenge for USF, however.

Book threw for over 3,000 yards and 34 touchdowns in 2019 and is expected to continue to produce for the Fighting Irish.

It’ll take the full force of the secondary to shut him down.

Can the offensive line keep up?

The offensive line gave up three sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss on Saturday, but it was without center Brad Cecil, guard Demetris Harris and tackle Donovan Jennings, its usual starters. 

The line will be tested against Notre Dame’s tenacious pass rush. Against Duke, the Fighting Irish had seven tackles for loss, eight quarterback hurries and three sacks.

It’s yet to be determined if USF’s starting line will be able to play, so the line will need to be at its best in order to handle Notre Dame’s pressure Saturday.