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Jordan McCloud expected to start for USF at UConn

Senior Blake Barnett is nursing a high-ankle sprain and still hasn’t practiced
USF quarterback Jordan McCloud (12) talks with coach Charlie Strong while exiting the field after Saturday's 48-21 loss to SMU. McCloud likely starts again this week at Connecticut. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times]
USF quarterback Jordan McCloud (12) talks with coach Charlie Strong while exiting the field after Saturday's 48-21 loss to SMU. McCloud likely starts again this week at Connecticut. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times] [ OCTAVIO JONES | Times ]
Published Oct. 2, 2019

TAMPA ― Barring an astounding recovery by Blake Barnett from a high-ankle sprain, redshirt freshman Jordan McCloud likely makes his second consecutive start for USF when it plays Saturday at Connecticut.

Offensive coordinator Kerwin Bell said Wednesday that Barnett ― who came off the bench to throw three touchdown passes in last weekend’s 48-21 loss to SMU ― still hasn’t practiced this week, but could suit up against the Huskies.

“Blake’s got that high-ankle sprain, so we’re taking it slow with him, making sure that he can get as healthy as possible for Saturday,” Bell said. “He’s getting all the mental work and all that, but we’re hoping to have him available on Saturday.”

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McCloud suffered a contusion on his right wrist during a miserable first half (66 passing yards, two interceptions, six sacks) against SMU, but has practiced this week, Bell said. The emergency QB would be walk-on Kirk Rygol, who impressed coaches in the preseason but didn’t suit up against SMU due to an unspecified injury.

Meantime, Bell said personnel changes are forthcoming at other positions in an effort to ignite an offense that ranks last in the American Athletic Conference in yards per game (305) and sacks allowed (20), and 10th in yards per play (4.7).

“We are who we are right now,” Bell said. “We’re not a very good football team, I’m gonna say it up front. I’m the offensive coordinator. We’ve got to score points early, which would help our defense, and it’s frustrating.”

Among the positions being shaken up is slot receiver, where walk-on Bryce Miller makes his first start as a Bull against the Huskies, Bell said.

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“Yeah, there’s gonna be changes at receiver,” Bell said. "There are gonna be some changes up front that we’re gonna see after this week ― the (practice) competition, after it takes hold ― to see who’s ready to go play.

“We’ve got to do something. We ain’t gonna stand around and just continue to play like that. This is not the way you play at this level.”

Defensively, third-year coordinator Brian Jean-Mary said no scheme or personnel changes are forthcoming, though he did say the coaching staff altered the practice routine to include more starters-versus-starters periods, and extra one-on-one tackling work.

USF is 10th in the AAC in total defense (391.8 ypg) and last against the run (188.8 ypg).

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result,” Jean-Mary said.

“We didn’t like the way we came out and obviously performed (against SMU), so we switched some things up in practice, made it a little bit more competitive, and actually cut a couple of periods. So we feel like the kids should be a little fresher, and there have been positive results so far.”

Contact Joey Knight at jknight@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls