TAMPA — Asked Saturday afternoon if he had named a starting quarterback, University of South Florida coach Willie Taggart smiled broadly and said, “I have … not.”
But as the competition between sophomore Mike White and junior Steven Bench rages on, Taggart said freshman Quinton Flowers continues to impress. Flowers had three touchdown passes in a morning scrimmage.
Taggart described Flowers, a 6-foot, 217-pounder from Miami Jackson, as one of the most pleasant surprises during training camp.
“He (Flowers) had a real good day,” Bulls senior WR Andre Davis said. “He took control of the offense.”
“It has been great watching how Quinton has developed the last few days,” Taggart said. “Early on, there was a lot coming at him. He struggled a little bit. But he kept his poise, kept working and made some plays.”
GOING INDOORS: Bulls FanFest, scheduled for the on-campus Corbett Soccer Stadium, was moved indoors to the Sun Dome due to lightning and torrential rain. That negated several of the planned interactive games for fans, but there was still plenty of fan interactivity with Taggart, the USF coaches and players.
“It was fun and good to have our fans stick around,” Taggart said. “We had fans standing out in the rain. I took a picture with a guy who was soaking wet. We appreciate that passion for USF football.”
ROAD TRIP: USF players expected a team meeting Saturday night, but Taggart surprised everyone by taking the team to the Bucs-Miami Dolphins exhibition game at Raymond James Stadium. Bulls players watched two USF teammates from last season — Dolphins DE Tevin Mims and Bucs DE Ryne Giddins, both rookie free agents.
FSU’s Jones ineligible academically
TALLAHASSEE – Florida State wide receiver Isaiah Jones has been declared academically ineligible.
Coach Jimbo Fisher said Saturday that Jones will still attend FSU and practice with the Seminoles.
The 6-foot-4 sophomore caught two passes for 31 yards in five games in 2013, but he had five receptions for 81 yards to lead the Gold squad in the Seminoles’ spring game in April.
He was part of a large group of receivers competing for starting jobs after FSU lost senior Kenny Shaw and Kelvin Benjamin entered the NFL draft early. Jones is the tallest receiver on the roster, and he was expected to help cushion the loss of the 6-5 Benjamin.
FSU still has plenty of options with seniors Jarred Haggins and Christian Green and sophomores Jesus Wilson and Kermit Whitfield.
FSU also signed a heralded trio of receivers in February — Travis Rudolph, Ermon Lane and Ja’Vonn Harrison.
DT GETS CHANCE: Nile Lawrence-Stample is preparing himself to stay on the field for the majority of the time with Florida State’s defense this season.
After starting in six of the Seminoles’ 14 games last year, the junior defensive tackle is hoping to be a full-time starter now.
“I’m not really doing anything different,” Lawrence-Stample said. “I’ve been trying to fit into this program since freshman year. I’ve been working my (butt) off since Day One, so there’s really no change.”
Beginning last season as a starter next to All-American defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan, Lawrence-Stample fell out of the starting lineup after the Seminoles’ first four games.
With FSU favoring a smaller, faster defensive scheme, the 6-foot-1, 314-pound lineman began many games on the sidelines not knowing when he would get his opportunity to contribute.
“It was tough,” he said, “especially coming off of really big games and having really good morale for myself and in the next game, not really even playing until the second half.”
With Jernigan starting his NFL career, Lawrence-Stample is preparing himself to take over for the second-round draft pick.
“I’m probably going to have to work on staying in the game, being 100 percent the whole time,” Lawrence-Stample said. “Even in regular (base formation), I’ve been able to get after the quarterback, so pass rushing shouldn’t be a huge issue for me. It’s just staying in the game the whole time.”
The Associated Press; Natalie Pierre, Tallahassee Democrat
Dunbar may blossom in Roper’s offense
GAINESVILLE – Quinton Dunbar hasn’t put up monster numbers as a wide receiver at Florida. He did catch 40 balls a year ago for 548 yards but didn’t have a single touchdown.
As a sophomore he had 36 receptions and four scores. Decent but not fancy.
But the Miami Washington graduate’s time may have finally arrived when Kurt Roper walked in the door as the Gators’ new offensive coordinator.
Roper will put the ball in the air short, long and often. And he’s made no secret of the fact he really likes Dunbar and the group of wideouts he has.
Dunbar quickly noticed a change — beginning with the summer voluntary workouts.
“We threw a lot of deep balls,” he said. “Probably like, 10, 15 a day after weights, something like that. You can tell that it’s paying off. The timing is down with the receivers and the quarterbacks.
“(Hitting deep throws is) very important. You can see we’re going to take a lot of shots this year. It’s very key to this offense to open up everything else.”
Dunbar was made for this offense. He’s caught at least one pass in 28 straight games, breaking Carlos Alvarez’s mark of 25 set in 1969-71.
But he’s also great with the ball in his hands after the reception. Roper loves to get the ball to a playmaker and let them do the rest.
The up-tempo, spread attack also lets the offense get off a lot of plays and create momentum.
“We want to play fast,” Dunbar said. “The faster we get, we feel like the more we have the edge on the defense. Coach Roper preaches that every day, continue to tempo up, continue to be fast.
“I think we can (be as fast as Duke was under Roper last year).”
David Jones, Florida Today