TAMPA ― Barely more than 72 hours before his team’s kickoff against East Carolina, USF offensive coordinator Kerwin Bell said he’s optimistic banged-up Bulls quarterback Jordan McCloud will be healthy enough to start against the Pirates.
But backup Kirk Rygol is getting plenty of reps just in case.
“I feel so much better this week (about McCloud),” Bell said.
“But we’ve got to make sure that he’s healthy. We don’t want to put him out there if he can’t go out and operate this offense, because that’s hurting everybody.”
Though McCloud’s injury to his throwing shoulder initially was disclosed as a stinger, Bell said the redshirt freshman actually is nursing a first-degree shoulder separation that greatly hindered his ability to make downfield throws in Saturday’s 35-3 loss at Navy.
He finished 11-for-23 for 50 yards and an interception before being replaced by Rygol ― a 6-foot walk-on ― for the final two possessions.
“Last week I told him it was just like he was trying to survive,” Bell said. “We probably should’ve went ahead and made the move. You can tell he just probably didn’t feel comfortable.”
But Bell said McCloud informed him Sunday that he felt “better than he’s felt in the last two or three weeks.” Additionally, McCloud no longer is wearing a glove on his right hand, a sign that his wrist contusion no longer is an issue.
“We’ve got to be aggressive, we’ve got to get somebody out there who can go make the throws,” Bell said.
“I told (McCloud) that and he’s working hard. He knows he’s got to get better, he knows he’s got to get healthy, and I really like where he’s at right now this week. He’s not 100 percent by no means, but he’s a lot farther along than he was the last two weeks.”
Meantime, Bell and his staff continue grooming Rygol, who emerged as the emergency QB during preseason camp despite precious few significant reps.
“We really repped him more these last two or three weeks, so it’s just him knowing the system a little bit better,” Bell said. “But man, when he sees it and it’s open, he can make all the throws.”
Contact Joey Knight at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.