1. Sports
  2. /
  3. USF Bulls

USF still mum on starting QB, but Kerwin Bell says o-line changes are coming

CCC alumnus Billy Atterbury is moving back to his natural spot at right guard
USF guard Billy Atterbury (78) talks with Sebastian Sainterling offensive lineman (70) during the second half of the game at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida on Saturday, September 1, 2018. [JONES, OCTAVIO | Tampa Bay Times]
Published Sep. 11
Updated Sep. 11

TAMPA ― While it remains uncertain if USF will have a new starting quarterback Saturday, the Bulls definitely will unveil a new-look offensive line.

First-year offensive coordinator Kerwin Bell, whose unit has managed one touchdown in eight quarters and is averaging 3.8 yards per play, announced Wednesday sophomore right guard Donovan Jennings and fifth-year senior left tackle Billy Atterbury will swap positions Saturday against Division I-AA South Carolina State.

The switch moves the two back to their old positions. Jennings, a Gaither High alumnus, started four games at left tackle last season. Atterbury, a Clearwater Central Catholic graduate, made 23 consecutive starts at right guard in 2017 and ’18.

MORE USF: USF men’s non-league slate includes at least three teams from 2019 NCAA tourney

“We made that move because we thought Donovan could be a big, powerful guard in there with Demetris (Harris) at guards, and Billy we thought could get it done out there (at left tackle),” Bell said.

"And (Atterbury) played okay, but I think the big thing is, Donovan just was so raw in there playing guard. He’s never played a lot of football, and what he did play in high school was left tackle.

“So now we want to put him back at his comfortable position. And Billy really with his footwork, he’s really fundamentally sound in there. So when we do run plays inside, we’re not missing people and we’re not leaving people free.”

Elsewhere, Bell added Virginia Tech transfer Jarrett Hopple ― a 6-foot-7, 325-pound junior ― continues battling fifth-year senior Marcus Norman at right tackle, where Norman has made 36 career starts.

Meantime, Bell hinted the QB competition between redshirt freshman Jordan McCloud and senior Blake Barnett could be decided within the next day. Whether a starter is announced before Saturday evening’s kickoff is unclear.

“We’ve given 'em both the same amount of reps, and I tell you what, they’ve both accepted the challenge,” Bell said. “They’re both playing really well in practice. Jordan’s really pushing Blake, and Blake’s really picked up his game this week in practice.”

MORE USF: While football founders, USF soccer teams sparkle

Stifled by a lack of protection and virtually no run game, Barnett (25-for-50, 188 yards, two INTs) has failed to engineer a touchdown drive in two games.

McCloud, who replaced him late in the second half of Saturday’s 14-10 loss at Georgia Tech, went 4-for-5 for 90 yards with a 20-yard TD pass to Johnny Ford.

“We’ve been keeping all the stats that we can keep to try to make sure that we go with the right guy,” said Bell, whose unit has managed 119 rushing yards in two games.

“But again, it’s more than just that. We’ve got to get our running game going.”

Defensively, coordinator Brian Jean-Mary said junior middle linebacker Andrew Mims (three tackles, one for loss) will get his first career start Saturday in place of Patrick Macon.

An Oklahoma State transfer with a team-high 20 tackles, Macon must sit out the first half after being ejected for targeting in the waning moments of the Georgia Tech defeat.

“(Mims) played a little bit in the first two games and has done well, so we’re very, very confident in him,” Jean-Mary said. “And then obviously we’ll have some other guys that have been playing the weakside linebacker spot, they’ve been repping this week at the middle also.”

Jean-Mary added senior middle linebacker Nico Sawtelle, sidelined with what is believed to be a recurrence of the neck and shoulder injuries that sidelined him the second half of last season, still hasn’t returned to practice.

“He’s gonna see a specialist I think during the bye week, and we should get some more information on him after that,” Jean-Mary said.

Contact Joey Knight at Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.


  1. USF quarterback Jordan McCloud (12) runs against Georgia Tech during the second half of a Sept. 7 game. JON BARASH  |  AP
    Additionally, quarterback Jordan McCloud makes the AAC weekly honor roll.
  2. USF redshirt freshman Jordan McCloud warms up before Saturday night's game against South Carolina State. McCloud totaled five touchdowns in the Bulls' 55-16 triumph. SCOTT PURKS | Special to the Times] SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times
    The redshirt freshman’s five total touchdowns were the most by a Bulls first-time starter
  3. USF rejoices after defensive end Kirk Livingstone, getting hugged, recovers a first-half fumble against South Carolina State. SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times
    Journal: The Bulls force a single-game record eight turnovers against South Carolina State.
  4. Relentless pressure caused this first-half fumble; No. 20 Bentlee Sanders knocking it free with No. 4 Greg Reaves ready to pounce. USF recovered, then scored a touchdown just a few plays later against visiting South Carolina State. SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times
    At least one unit still has some serious shortcomings entering conference play.
  5. Not perfect, but not too bad for USF quarterback Jordan McCloud in his first college start. SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times
    The redshirt freshman quarterback totals five touchdowns in his starting debut as the Bulls beat South Carolina State 55-16.
  6. UCF defensive back Aaron Robinson runs after intercepting a pass against Stanford during the first half of Saturday's 45-27 Knights win. JOHN RAOUX  |  AP
    Fennelly: Like last year and the year before, Saturday’s big win (this one over Stanford) isn’t music to every ear.
  7. UCF quarterback Dillon Gabriel throws a pass against Stanford during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday in Orlando. JOHN RAOUX  |  AP
    The true freshman quarterback throws four touchdowns in a 45-27 victory over the Pac-12 Cardinal.
  8. Warming up before the game Saturday night, USF redshirt freshman Jordan McCloud, a Plant High alum, got his first start as a college quarterback. SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times
    The former Panther gets the nod over Blake Barnett against South Carolina State.
  9. UCF quarterback Brandon Wimbush runs the ball against Florida A&M on  Aug. 29, 2019 in Orlando. GARY MCCULLOUGH  |  AP
    But who will start at quarterback Saturday for the No. 17 Knights?
  10. USF, Florida, FSU and more games on the air.