By David Alexander

What could have been a great story — LOCAL BOY MAKES GOOD — didn’t quite turn out that way.  Jordan McCloud, a Tampa native and freshman quarterback, got an opportunity to start his first big game for the Bulls.  The conference opener against an undefeated opponent with the 4 pm slot on ESPN.  Unfortunately, the fairy tale ending we all would have liked to see didn’t materialize.

McCloud showed promise early, but threw two interceptions in the first quarter, and never got back on track.  He played like a freshman and while he probably has a bright future, there will be challenges ahead.  HC Charlie Strong mercifully replaced him at halftime with Blake Barnett.  Barnett managed to get a touchdown in the third quarter well after the game was no longer in doubt. The crowd (no more than 20,000, if that) was out of the game early as well.

SMU played well in the first half, but took the air out of the ball in the second half.  Shane Beuchele, the UT graduate transfer, was efficient, with no scoring drives longer than 4 minutes in the first half.  SMU stays undefeated, but didn’t have to work hard for this one.

To be sure, McCloud was not the only disappointment for USF.  There was an opportunity for an interception that would have been a touchdown early in the first quarterthat would have gave the Green & Gold a 6-0 lead, but it went through the defensive back’s hands.  That play seemed to take something out of the entire team. Mitch Wilcox, the standout USF tight end, went more than two quarters without touching the ball.  The defense was on their heels most of the game, and missed crucial tackles at the most inopportune times.  Make no mistake, this loss was a team effort, and the coaching staff needs to figure out where it wants this team to go.

Do you start McCloud in the next game or stay with Barnett? Why did you wait so long to change quarterbacks?  How can you get the ball to your impact players?  Can the defense hold up their end until the offense finds their way?  These are all questions that Coach Strong was asked by my good friend and Editor of It’s Sports Magazine, Leo Haggerty, at his post game press conference.  Look for the answers to those queries in his AFTER THE DUST SETTLES column later this week.

Next on the schedule for South Florida is UConn.  The Huskies are not on SMU’s level, but if effort counts for anything they will provide the Bulls with a stern test.