Here’s the latest on USF football’s quarterback battle

TAMPA — When the Alex Golesh era at USF has its soft opening in Friday’s spring game, fans will get their first glimpse of the Bulls’ warp-speed offense and quarterback competition.

Both looks will be incomplete.

A first-year staff that wouldn’t name which players forced turnovers in practice will likely keep its play calls vanilla. As for which passer will take the first snaps at Western Kentucky on Sept. 2, that won’t be decided until the fall.

“We’re not going to come out of spring and say, ‘This guy’s guaranteed the starter, this guy’s No. 2,’” pass-game coordinator Joel Gordon said. “It’s going to be an ongoing process of evaluation.”

Here’s our update on where that evaluation stands:

Byrum Brown ‘in control’ for USF football

Byrum Brown was arguably the Bulls’ brightest spot last fall. The North Carolina native began preseason camp fourth on the depth chart but started the final two games because of injuries to Gerry Bohanon and Katravis Marsh, and Timmy McClain’s transfer to UCF.

“I feel like I was ready…” Brown said. “My parents instilled that in me as a kid. Always prepare. Prepare to be the guy, and when the opportunity comes, don’t shy away from it, because those opportunities don’t come often.”

He maximized his chance, completing a school single-game record 84% of his passes in his first start at Tulsa and finishing his freshman season with eight touchdowns (five passing, three rushing) and one interception.

The confidence he gained from 2022 carries over to 2023. The playbook does not, though Brown said Golesh’s system — get the ball to playmakers quickly — suits his strengths well. Gordon likes how Brown avoids mistakes.

“He’s in control,” Gordon said. “He’s really poised. He doesn’t freak out when things fall apart around him, and he’s a really good leader. He finds a way to make a good decision after a good decision after a good decision.”

That’s enough to make him a frontrunner for the starting job.

Who is Bryce Archie?

If you didn’t know of Bryce Archie before he transferred from Coastal Carolina in January, you’re in good company. The former three-star recruit was the Chanticleers’ third-string quarterback for much of last season.

He did, however, resonate with Golesh, who recruited Archie in high school.

“When I entered the portal, Golesh was the first guy I talked to…” Archie said. “It kind of just led from there.”

Archie (6-foot-3, 212 pounds) is mobile and explosive but still honing his pocket poise. He also has some familiarity with the offense; it’s similar to what he ran at Georgia’s McEachern High, where he once backed up Carlos Del Rio-Wilson (a blue-chip Gators signee who’s now at Syracuse).

“In high school, I had the base of it,” Archie said. “Now it’s just more stories and more levels to the offense.”

Don’t forget about Baylor transfer Gerry Bohanon

One practical reason why USF won’t solidify its quarterback depth chart coming out of spring: last year’s starter isn’t fully healthy.

Gerry Bohanon is still recovering from an injury to his right (throwing) shoulder that sidelined him for the final five games last season. Golesh said recently that Bohanon is “way ahead of schedule” throwing a tennis ball. But throwing a tennis ball and taking mental reps aren’t the same as completing passes to new receivers in a new system.

Bohanon’s absence means more snaps for Brown, Archie and junior Ryan Bolduc — all of whom have worked with the first team. Even while limited, Bohanon’s off-the-charts intangibles are evident. He continues to be a spokesperson for the team, speaking at the grand opening of the indoor practice facility and at a recent board of trustees meeting.

“To say that he’s been a selfless leader in that (quarterback) room is an understatement,” Gordon said. “He’s been above and beyond what I thought he would be.”

As for what Bohanon can do on the field with this staff? We’ll have to wait to see that in preseason camp, when USF’s quarterback competition will be decided.

• • •

Sign up for the Florida Football Fix weekly newsletter as Matt Baker offers his analysis of trends, news and hot topics around college football — and how they affect our state teams. Never miss out on the latest with the Bucs, Rays, Lightning, Florida college sports and more. Follow our Tampa Bay Times sports team on Twitter and Facebook.