Expect USF’s quarterback derby to stretch a few extra furlongs

The Bulls’ starting job may not be settled until after non-conference play.
Incumbent Jordan McCloud (3) is among three quarterbacks competing for USF's starting job. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times]
Incumbent Jordan McCloud (3) is among three quarterbacks competing for USF's starting job. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times] [ Times ]
Published Aug. 31, 2020|Updated Aug. 31, 2020

Even as USF’s preseason winds down, its three-player quarterback derby is just getting wound up.

Coach Jeff Scott has said more than once his goal is to know his starting quarterback when the Bulls board the plane for their Oct. 3 game at Cincinnati, which kicks off their American Athletic Conference schedule.

That timetable affords Scott and his staff three non-league games in which to evaluate Jordan McCloud, Cade Fortin and Noah Johnson. Scott’s history indicates the staff will utilize all three contests.

Related: A walk of faith and a waiver: How USF's latest quarterback derby arose

In 2014, when Scott coached the Clemson receivers, he helped preside over an early-season quarterback competition between senior Cole Stoudt and freshman DeShaun Watson. Stoudt started the first three games — losing two — before Watson took over and threw a program-record six touchdown passes in his starting debut, a 50-35 romp of North Carolina.

Watson, of course, led the Tigers to the 2016 national title. Then in 2018, Scott was co-offensive coordinator as senior Kelly Bryant dueled with heralded freshman Trevor Lawrence for the starting job. Though Bryant started the first four games (all victories), he shared reps with Lawrence, whom Coach Dabo Swinney named the starter prior to Game Five.

That decision prompted Bryant to transfer. Lawrence finished the year with 3,280 passing yards and 30 touchdowns, leading the Tigers to another national title.

So “those are two potential NFL hall of famers (Watson and Bryant),” Scott said, “and it took ’em four games in for us to be able to figure that out.”

The Bulls open the season a week from Saturday at home against The Citadel.

Related: What will college football look like during the coronavirus pandemic?