The rotating-quarterback concept isn't all that new; dozens of coaches have tried it since Steve Spurrier had such success with it in the late 1990s at Florida. It's not often, though, that a successful tandem doesn't even include the starting quarterback.
But that's what evolved Friday night, as starter Ronnie Banks took a backseat to two backups: junior multithreat Brian Fisher and fresh-faced freshman Pat Julmiste. Together they sparked the Bulls offense and helped put them back into bowl contention, giving USF a 24-17 double overtime victory over a resilient Cincinnati team.
Fisher was no surprise. A receiver and punt returner who continues to prove he can make things happen at quarterback, Fisher came in for Banks late in the first half _ when the Bulls had no points and no first downs _ and made an immediate difference. And it was Fisher who orchestrated USF's offense in overtime, capping his efforts with a 4-yard touchdown run that tied it at 17 and kept the Bulls alive.
But Julmiste, whose other appearance was against Charleston Southern, where he and Fisher also traded spaces while a sore Banks rested, did his share of keeping USF in the game. He came in early in the third and got the Bulls on the scoreboard on his first drive, courtesy of a beautifully thrown 36-yard touchdown to Elgin Hicks that tied it at 7.
Julmiste stayed behind center for the rest of the quarter then shared the fourth with Fisher before ceding to Fisher in overtime. He completed 5-of-12 for 67 yards and 34 yards on seven carries.
Julmiste doesn't even have a number yet (he shares No. 17 with senior strong safety Kevin Verpaele) but by the end of the night, he had legions of fans. The Bulls backers who ran onto the field after the dramatic conclusion practically had to stand in line to shake his hand and thank him.
"I knew I was going to get a shot at it," Julmiste said. "I thought I played average. I can do much better."
When he will get more time at quarterback remains to be seen. After the game, coach Jim Leavitt was supportive of Banks, but said "it just felt like with what (Cincinnati) were doing defensively we would have a better shot with Brian and Pat."
He declined to say who might start next week against East Carolina, or whether Banks was definitely out, or even when he would make that decision. But he was clearly pleased that he turned the game over to Fisher and Julmiste.
"I'm always comfortable with Brian," Leavitt said. "We really wanted Pat to play a lot in the Charleston Southern game because we really want to bring him along. (Against Cincinnati) it just felt like it was time."