Steven Bench

QB Mike White granted release from USF scholarship

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The most experienced quarterback on USF’s roster will ply his football wares elsewhere, the school announced Tuesday.

Willie Taggart confirmed in a press release that Mike White has been granted a release from his USF scholarship.  White had been a part of a three-man quarterback competition this spring, but decided after the last of those 15 sessions that he would continue his playing career elsewhere.

No specific reason was given for the decision.

“Mike and I talked after the conclusion of spring practice, and he expressed his desire to pursue the remainder of his career at another school,” the Bulls head coach said in a statement. “We wish Mike all the best in his future and thank him for his contributions to our program and University.”

Barring an unforeseen development, White, who was a true sophomore in 2014, would be forced to sit out the 2015 season if he ends up at another FBS program.

Over the past two seasons, the Fort Lauderdale native has started a total of 15 games. White started five games as a true freshman in 2013, and 10 the following season.  He had started 13 games in a row for the Bulls before temporarily losing his starting job in late October, but came back to start the last two.

The two games White didn’t start last year were manned by Steven Bench (vs. Houston, Nov. 1) and Quinton Flowers (vs. SMU, Nov. 15), who will now move forward with what will be a two-headed quarterback competition.

USF appears set to make a change at QB

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During and after a four-turnover effort in the loss to Cincinnati last week, starting quarterback Mike White, the Tampa Bay Times wrote, “[got] down on himself and [allowed] teammates to see his dejection.” That didn’t sit well with head coach Willie Taggart… and might end up with White sitting on the bench this weekend.

According to the Times, backup Steven Bench has been seen taking reps with the Bulls’ starting center during practice this week. While Taggart has yet to make a decision on a starter for Saturday’s game against Houston, he again referenced composure in intimating that a change at the position could be in the offing.

“If we’re gonna be the team and win the games that we feel like we should win, everyone’s got to compete and no one can be complacent or get down when things don’t go well,” said Taggart, who didn’t indicate when he’d decide on a starter.

“If we’re gonna be the team and win the games that we feel like we should win, everyone’s got to compete and no one can be complacent or get down when things don’t go well,” the coach said Thursday. “”We’ve got to compete no matter what the situation is, and that’s what we’re looking for in our guys.”

White is currently 90th in the country, and ninth in the AAC, in passing efficiency.  White beat out Bench for the starting job during the middle of summer camp.

Bench, who transferred to the Bulls from Penn State, appears to be in line for his first start of the 2014 season. In 2013, his first season with the Bulls, Bench started a pair of games.

This season, Bench has completed less than half of his 51 passes for 319 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.

Despite fractured forearm, wrist, USF QB ‘on track’ to start


OK, it’s his non-throwing arm, but, still, that’s Jack Bauer-level impressive.

On the first play of USF’s eventual seven-point loss to Maryland last weekend, Mike White suffered a compression fracture in his left forearm and wrist and didn’t return to the game.  Despite those injuries, however, it appears possible, perhaps even likely, White will start Saturday’s game against North Carolina State.

White has been practicing this week, albeit with a hard cast on his left arm to protect the injury. Said head coach Willie Taggart, “[h]e threw some balls, he handed the ball off, he took some snaps and he looked pretty good.”

Taggart did stop short of naming White as the Bulls’ starter for the non-conference game, indicating instead that it’ll be a game-time decision.

Given how the coach talked up White for his ability to play with pain, however, it seems unlikely White won’t be with the offense when it first takes the field.

“When you have a team with guys who want to come out and play through the pain, that helps the team,’’ Taggart said. “That’s what you get with competitive kids. I’ve said from the start, it’s going to be hard for anyone with a low pain threshold to play here. Now guys are starting to notice that.”

That said, backups Steven Bench and Quinton Flowers have taken extra reps in practice this week just in case. Bench, the Penn State transfer who took over for White in the Maryland game, would get the start if the starter is unable to go.

Report: USF’s QB competition has come to a close


The USF Bulls are going to stick with what didn’t work last season.

Quarterback Mike White started the final five games for the Bulls. The team went 0-5, and White threw nine interceptions compared to only three touchdowns.

Yet, it’s White who emerged as the Bulls’ starting quarterback during a competition between him and Penn State transfer Steven Bench.

White was a true freshman, though. The team originally expected to redshirt the quarterback and prepare him for the upcoming 2014 campaign. However, the dismal play from the quarterback position forced the team to burn White’s redshirt. One of those quarterbacks that initially struggled was Bench.

Bench started two games last year. He was 21-of-50 passing with two touchdowns and two interceptions during those contests.

White did flash glimpses of the talent that made him the future of USF Bulls football. In his first start, White threw for 311 yards and a touchdown in a 35-25 loss to the Houston Cougars. Over the next four games, White proved he wasn’t ready to start as a freshman.

USF hopes White is ready this season as the program continues to build under the direction of head coach Willie Taggart.

Miami makes another case for ACC title consideration


The Miami Hurricanes have a certain swagger back, and the ACC should be taking notice. Miami dominated South Florida in Tampa Saturday afternoon, 49-21. While a victory against the Bulls is little to boast about at this time, Miami has looked very good in the first month of the season and appear to be every bit the title contender in the ACC as Clemson or Florida State.

Miami quarterback Stephen Morris completed 11-of-16 attempts for 222 yards and two touchdowns before taking an early exit with an ankle injury and the game well in hand. Ryan Williams took over and had 153 passing yards and a touchdown. Duke Johnson carried the football 14 times for 84 yards and also got the benefit of some early rest. Stacy Coley was a big target in the passing game, with two touchdowns to lead the receivers. The Miami defense just abused the Bulls all day long as well, aside from South Florida’s opening drive of the game that resulted in a touchdown.

South Florida starting quarterback Steven Bench was up against the best pass defense he may face all season, and it showed. Even with the game out of hand, South Florida head coach opted to stick with Bench through the entire game rather than get someone else in the game. Perhaps that suggests Bench’s job as quarterback will be safe for another week.

Miami will get a chance to flex some conference muscle next weekend when they return home to host Georgia Tech. Georgia Tech will have a couple extra days to prepare for Miami after losing to Virginia Tech at home Thursday night. Following that Georgia Tech game, the Hurricanes get a bye week before visiting a North Carolina team that is really struggling this season. Wins in those two games would set Miami up nicely to make a run to appear in their first ACC Championship Game since joining the conference. Miami’s toughest challenges will come in back-to-back weeks in early November against Florida State and Virginia Tech. If they can avoid slumping through October, Miami should be in very favorable position.

Miami has already defeated Florida and routed the rest of the competition. Now comes the test that is ACC play. If Miami plays the way they have in September, Miami could very well be playing in the ACC Championship Game and give Clemson or Florida State a serious threat.

The situation at South Florida is on the complete opposite end of the spectrum. Willie Taggart‘s job is just beginning in Tampa and it is pretty clear the Bulls have a lot of rebuilding to do. South Florida had just three wins last season, so the bar is not exactly set too high right now. However, a glance at the rest of the 2013 schedule may prove difficult to predict three wins the rest of the way for South Florida.