TAMPA ― In the wake of only the fourth shutout defeat in program history, USF coach Charlie Strong is planning no significant personnel changes on offense.
That includes the quarterback spot, where Strong reaffirmed Monday that Blake Barnett will start Saturday’s game at Georgia Tech.
“I know everyone talks about Blake, but you look at when he first started off, he was sharp.” Strong said Monday, three days after his team’s 49-0 loss to No. 19 Wisconsin.
“For two series he looked really good, and then all of the sudden, when you drop balls and you’re not able to run the football...it was tough on him.”
Barnett (13-for-30, 109 yards, two interceptions) finished with a passer rating of 60.50, worst of any Division I-A quarterback who had played a game through Friday.
Two of his first four passes were dropped, quashing any early momentum. On his third possession, he lost the ball after being blindsided, resulting in a Wisconsin touchdown. Additionally, no tailback had a run longer than 5 yards, rendering the Bulls one-dimensional.
“It all doesn’t fall on Blake,” Strong said. “The way we played the other night, even with the coaches, there’s enough to go around for everybody.”
The only offensive first-team change on the Week Two depth chart is junior Jernard Phillips starting at a wide receiver spot ahead of senior Stanley Clerveaux.
Defensively, Notre Dame transfer Devin Studstill (five tackles vs. Wisconsin) has moved ahead of sophomore Nick Roberts at free safety, giving USF four transfers on the first team.
Senior defensive end Kirk Livingstone is listed as a tackle, but Strong said the depth chart reflects the Bulls’ “speed package,” when Livingstone actually is lined up at an end and edge rusher Darius Slade (another transfer) is an outside linebacker.
“I will say this to you, (Wisconsin) is not 49 points better than us,” Strong said.
“I will say that I still have confidence and I believe in this football team, and I know we’re gonna go take care of our business. And yes, we could’ve played much better than what we did.”
Contact Joey Knight at email@example.com. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls