Two weeks before USF's season opener, the Bulls' quarterback picture remains somewhat unclear.
But the same can't be said for the stern message Coach Charlie Strong sent to his offense Saturday.
Strong, who has challenged the Bulls' mental toughness more than once this preseason, publicly scolded his offense early Saturday afternoon following USF's second August scrimmage.
"Physically we're gonna be a team that's gonna look really good, but it's just the mental makeup," said Strong, who nonetheless watched graduate-transfer QB Blake Barnett lead three scoring drives.
"Today we came out and the defense played with a lot of energy, a lot of juice. The offense just didn't come out today. They weren't prepared and weren't ready to go play."
No stats were provided from Saturday's event, though USF's sports-information office reported Barnett's trio of scoring drives on an otherwise lackluster offensive day.
The defense, meantime, forced punts on several drives, the school reported. FS Bentleee Sanders — a Tampa Catholic alumnus — added an interception, his second in as many scrimmages.
DE/OLB Josh Black, who had three sacks in the first scrimmage, had another tackle for loss Saturday. The school also reported DE/OLB Vincent Jackson, DT Kevin Bronson, MLB Tony Grier, WLB Dwayne Boyles, DT Devin Leacock and DT Blake Green also had sacks or tackles for loss.
"They ran around, had a lot of energy, and guys were making plays and they were getting stops and guys were having fun," Strong said.
While the offense wasn't devoid of big moments, Strong said it would be hard to determine a leader in the QB derby based on Saturday "because we didn't really do anything on offense."
Yet USF reported Barnett had a 24-yard touchdown pass to TE Frederick Lloyd and a 5-yarder to Randall St. Felix, and set up a field goal with a 60-yard strike to Admiral Farragut alumnus Zion Roland.
"The defense came out with a better mentality, they came out physical," Barnett said. "Offense, we didn't execute as good as we needed to, came out a little slow. We need to finish better, but the defense had a great day. They've been doing some great things on that side and they beat us today."
INJURY UPDATE: TE Mitch Wilcox, who hasn't suited up in pads all week, is nursing an undisclosed upper-body injury but should be fine, Strong indicated. Others appearing to rehab injuries Saturday included OL Jeremiah Stafford and DE Marquies Price.
ODDS AND ENDS: Freshman QB Jordan McCloud found fellow rookie Terrence Horne for a 64-yard TD and ran for a 19-yard score Saturday, according to USF. … Though he has spent the last three seasons waiting his turn behind Quinton Flowers, fourth-year junior QB Brett Kean said he wasn't put off by Strong bringing in another quarterback (Barnett) after spring practice to compete with he and Chris Oladokun for the job. "We both love competition, Blake loves competition, so we were excited for the opportunity for him to come in and compete," Kean said. "At the end of the day, we want what's best for the team." … After two weeks of mostly morning workouts, the Bulls begin afternoon practices on Monday, when classes start at USF. The team has held morning practices the past three seasons.
AUDIBLE: "I think I've been picking (the offense) up pretty quick. Everyone's had a fair shot, everyone's had equal reps. We're just all trying to apply ourselves and do as best we can to make this team productive." — Barnett, who didn't join the team until May