1. Sports
  2. /
  3. USF Bulls

USF morning after: Charlie Strong stands by offensive coordinator Kerwin Bell

Strong still believes in the Bell system, though it has barely shown up in three of USF’s four games
USF quarterback Blake Barnett (11) tackled by SMU linebacker JC Rispress (32) while throwing during the fourth quarter at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida on Sunday, September 28, 2019. SMU won, 48-21. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times] [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
USF quarterback Blake Barnett (11) tackled by SMU linebacker JC Rispress (32) while throwing during the fourth quarter at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida on Sunday, September 28, 2019. SMU won, 48-21. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times] [OCTAVIO JONES | Times]
Published Sep. 29, 2019

TAMPA ― Though he’s not exactly swimming in votes of confidence these days, Charlie Strong nonetheless issued one of his own Saturday night.

USF’s beleaguered coach still believes in new offensive coordinator Kerwin Bell’s pro-style system.

“I have a ton of confidence in Kerwin,” Strong said following USF’s 48-21 loss to SMU, the program’s ninth in a row against a Division I-A foe. “When you watch the tape, it’s there, it’s a matter of us just executing it.”

RELATED: USF Bulls on the wrong end of this stampede

Exactly when recognition leads to results is anyone’s guess. Subtract the Bulls’ 55-16 romp of Division I-AA South Carolina State, and the Bulls’ offensive numbers are abysmal.

In its three contests against I-A foes, USF has averaged 10.3 points and 4.1 yards per play. It has managed only 173 rushing yards on 86 carries, an average of barely 2 yards per attempt.

Meantime, Bulls quarterbacks have completed only slightly more than 50 percent of their throws (53-for-98) for 588 yards in those three games, and have been sacked 18 times. The 10 sacks USF allowed Saturday tied the program single-game record set against TCU in 2003.

Yet three days before the SMU game, Bell said he sensed his players were starting to grasp his complex system, to be able to operate it without thinking. Similarly, Strong seems confident the Bulls are on the cusp of a breakthrough.

One-third of the way through the regular season, any such breakthrough seems far off.

“I know this, he’s installed a system...that works for us,” Strong said. “Now it’s all about us just executing that system.”

Contact Joey Knight at Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.


  1. USF sophomore center Michael Durr faces a daunting challenge on Saturday night in Orlando against UCF 6-foot-11 veteran Collin Smith. [CHRIS O'MEARA  |  AP]
    The Bulls, who appear on the cusp of a breakthrough win, haven’t defeated the Knights since 2015.
  2. New USF football coach Jeff Scott, left, meets with members of his coaching staff and support staff at USF on Thursday. [SCOTT KEELER  |  TAMPA BAY TIMES]
    The new coach also has a date set for the Bulls’ spring intrasquad game
  3. New USF football coach Jeff Scott, right, talks to members of the football team during a team meeting at USF on Thursday. [SCOTT KEELER  |  TAMPA BAY TIMES]
    Clemson’s former co-offensive coordinator holds his first full team meeting as USF coach.
  4. USF women's coach Jose Fernandez, talking with guard Enna Pehadzic (0) during the Bulls' season-opening win against Jacksonville, leads his team into a critical American Athletic Conference game tonight at Temple. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
    A mediocre showing in non-conference play has hindered the Bulls’ NCAA Tournament hopes.
  5. USF tight end Mitch Wilcox with a reception during a drill on the field during the East practice for the East-West Shrine Game at Tropicana Field on Monday. [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    The Tarpon Springs alum insists the Bulls’ disastrous 4-8 season benefited him as he prepares for the NFL draft in this week’s East-West Shrine Game activities.
  6. Expect USF third-year sophomore Jordan McCloud, who started 10 games last season, to get serious competition for the job this spring. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
    A look at some of the Bulls’ greatest areas of need entering the recruiting cycle’s final stretch.
  7. LSU coach Ed Orgeron, left, and Clemson coach Dabo Swinney shake hands on Sunday, Jan. 12, 2020, near the national championship trophy after a news conference for the College Football Playoff title game. [CHRIS CARLSON  |  AP]
    Goodbye, task-master ways. The duo leading their teams into the CFP national title game are all about a very personal, aw-shucks, family approach.
  8. USF guard David Collins, left, goes up for a shot against Memphis forward D.J. Jeffries during the second half of the Tigers' 68-64 triumph Sunday at the Yuengling Center. [CHRIS O'MEARA  |  AP]
    The Bulls squander a 14-point second-half lead in a 68-64 loss to the Tigers at Yuengling Center.
  9. USF junior Justin Brown, center, and the rest of the Bulls will try for their first win against a ranked foe since 2012 when they host No. 21 Memphis on Sunday. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
    The Bulls can end a 27-game skid against ranked opposition when they host the Tigers.
  10. New USF coach Jeff Scott has completed his 10-member staff of onfield assistants. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
    The Bulls have three assistants currently younger than 30, most in the American Athletic Conference.