Takeaways: McClain possibly earns starting role, Battie and Mangham combine for big game against FAMU

Sophomore running back Brian Battie (center) ran for 110 yards in USF’s 38-17 win over FAMU. ORACLE PHOTO/LEDA ALVIM

Plenty of positives came out of USF’s win over Florida A&M on Saturday, including the play of sophomore running back Brian Battie and the emergence of freshman quarterback Timmy McClain. That’s not to say there aren’t aspects the Bulls need to work on as well, however.

The Rattlers kept pace with the Bulls in the second half, with each team scoring 14 points, and outgained the Bulls 271-161 in total yardage over the final 30 minutes.

Nevertheless, coach Jeff Scott said his team will enjoy the victory for 24 hours before eventually turning the page and moving on to their next opponent, BYU. Here are some takeaways from USF’s 38-17 win over FAMU.

Potential answer to quarterback questions

It was a constant carousel of quarterbacks for the Bulls last season, from Jordan McCloud to Noah Johnson and others, a starter just couldn’t seem to be ironed out. Now, three games into a new season, USF may have found its guy.

Leading up to the game against FAMU, Scott was very noncommittal on who would start at quarterback. Just before kickoff, however, McClain was announced as the game’s starter on the jumbotron.

“There’s times tonight where he made some really nice plays, and [other times] where he looked like a freshman,” Scott said of McClain after the game. “That’s part of it, I’ve coached freshman quarterbacks before and this is the first time he’s ever started a game.

“I think he definitely does some things that can help us offensively. … The exciting part about him is he’s got a lot of room to grow.”

Although Scott didn’t say whether or not McClain would start Saturday against BYU, his play against the Rattlers was impressive. Aside from an early fumble, the freshman was 12-of-23 for 163 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for 53 yards on 14 attempts.

Running backs have strong performance

The USF offense didn’t disappoint against the Rattlers, posting 38 points with sophomore running back Brian Battie and junior running back Jaren Mangham showing out.

Battie rushed for 110 yards on 10 carries, bringing his total rushing yards through three games to 151, almost half of his production last season. 

As for Mangham, he served as the muscle for USF and secured three red zone touchdowns. A transfer from the University of Colorado, Mangham already has five touchdowns on the season.

Although Mangham got the start and, along with Battie, headlined the show for the running back room this time around, junior Kelley Joiner and senior Darrian Felix will likely still be relevant pieces to the position and the team moving forward. It just comes down to how the reps are split.

“It’s kind of how the rotation is and how it goes, obviously I rolled out first [today],” Mangham said. “Today I was lucky to get in [the end zone] three times”

Second-half defensive mistakes could cost USF in the future

The defense for the Bulls ultimately got the job done, but its performance in the second half wasn’t ideal.

“Defensively, [in] the first half, I thought we did a good job,” Scott said. “We held them to -7 yards rushing in the first half and they were 0-for-8 on third downs. Obviously we didn’t finish the right way defensively. They were able to find a lot of points there in the second half [and] we’ve got to clean that up.

“We just don’t have a lot of depth right now, those guys kind of got worn down there in the second half … We’ll have to learn from that. Guys are going to have to be in shape [and] play four quarters if our depth is [where it’s at now.]”

The Bulls barely touched FAMU’s quarterback, only getting one sack, and allowed 271 second-half yards. While this worked Saturday, a performance like that may not be as successful against USF’s future opponents.