The USF football team held its 2021 spring game in Raymond James Stadium on Saturday, and the Green team took down the White team 31-21 in a telling matchup.
The Bulls were split into two squads before Saturday’s showdown, the Green team, led by linebackers coach Ernie Sims, and the White team led by offensive line coach and assistant head coach Allen Mogridge.
Green got the scoring started after junior wide receiver Xavier Weaver caught a 7-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Cade Fortin. Just a few plays before that, the two juniors hooked up for a 50-yard connection on the game’s opening play to set up the score.
The duo again found success later in the first quarter when Fortin tossed Weaver a 40-yard bomb. Weaver broke a couple of tackles on his way to the end zone.
Taking the top off the defense and stretching the field was something coach Jeff Scott said his team has been doing throughout spring, so the amount of deep shots taken in the game were of no surprise to him.
“We threw the deep ball today as much as we did in practice,” Scott said. “I mean there’s no doubt that our offense is built on making big chunk plays because if a defense is not worried about you throwing the ball down the field, then it makes it extremely hard to run the ball because they put a lot of guys around the box to stop the run.
“If you always have that threat to stretch the field, they have to keep those safeties back and open up the run game … We were able to make some nice plays going down the field and that will continue to be something we stress going into the fall.”
Senior placekicker Jared Sackett added three more points via a field goal to the Green team’s early 17-0 lead.
The White team struggled throughout the majority of the first half, but sophomore quarterback Jarren Williams led the team down the field in a two-minute scenario just before halftime. Williams capped off the drive with a touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Omarion Dollison as the first half clock expired to make the score 17-7 heading into the break.
“I felt like Jarren really settled in right there near that last drive before halftime,” Scott said. “That was a two-minute drive, that’s another reason that you play these spring games, to put these guys in situations like that.
“And I felt like Jarren was really at his best when he had to, right there on that two-minute drive to be able to get a touchdown right before half.”
Williams finished his day for 9-of-19 for 98 yards and a touchdown, as well as tallying six carries for 25 yards.
Fortinended 14-of-23 for 224 yards and two touchdowns.
The second half saw both teams give new opportunities to quarterbacks.
Sophomore quarterback Katravis Marsh stepped in for the Green team and freshman quarterback Timmy McClain came in for the White team.
The two young quarterbacks battled throughout the second half and traded impressive plays between one another. McClain showed off some of his athleticism by evading defenders, and Marsh put his arm talent on display by launching multiple balls down the field.
“To see both [Katravis] Marsh and Timmy McClain come in, hopefully that just made everybody smile a little bit thinking about the future of our program here because both of those young men are very talented freshmen,” Scott said. “They played like that all spring.
“[Marsh] has a big league arm, I think he was able to show that … It was great to see Timmy get in there, he did not look like a typical freshman.”
Marsh connected on a 67-yard pass to senior wide receiver Bryce Miller and a 48-yard pass to sophomore wide receiver Garret Reynolds in the second half.
The final touchdown of the game came on a 16-yard pass from McClain to Dollison to make the score 31-21.
Now, Scott and his team will come together and prepare for the season opener Sept. 2 against NC State.
“I’m really pleased overall,” Scott said. “It’s good seeing a lot of young guys getting in there at the end and make some plays. I told our guys that now after this game, we get back together on one team. Whenever you split up teams, you see some plays here and there, but when you put everybody together back on the same team, same sideline, we got a chance to be a lot stronger.
“I think we have about 180 days before we kick it off up in Raleigh. Really proud of the way these guys finished spring, now we’ll look forward to the summer ahead.”