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What is Arizona getting in Jordan McCloud? A USF expert weighs in

NCAA Football: South Florida at Navy Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Wildcats landed USF transfer Jordan McCloud on Saturday, boosting their quarterback room.

The redshirt sophomore started 17 games in two seasons with the Bulls, making him by far the most experienced quarterback on the roster heading into the 2021 season.

In 2020, McCloud completed 62 percent of his passes for 1,341 yards, nine touchdowns and two interceptions while rushing for 74 yards and a touchdown. That included a monster season finale against UCF in which he threw for 404 yards and four touchdowns in a 58-46 loss.

We wanted to know more about Arizona’s new QB, so we caught up with Nathan Bond of The Daily Stampede, our sister USF site, for some insight.

Here is the Q&A.

Ryan Kelapire: How did McCloud’s career at USF go compared to expected?

Nathan Bond: He was a low 3-star QB when he signed in 2018. He did the best he could given the coaching/culture/talent he had around him. He was thrown into the starting job in 2019 after Charlie Strong and former OC Sterlin Gilbert ran away two upperclassmen and the starter got hurt. His final game of his USF career will be remembered for a while.

RK: Why did McCloud transfer from USF?

NB: He beat out two transfers hand picked by Jeff Scott last season, then Scott went out (rightly) and brought in another QB transfer this cycle. I think he was sick of the unknown and yo-yo’ing at the position.

RK: What are McCloud’s strengths as a player?

NB: Between 0-20 yards he’s as accurate as you can be. He’s a smart decision maker. He’s grown into a leader on the team, and it showed on the field.

RK: What are McCloud’s weaknesses as a player?

NB: Arm strength and fumbles. Both have gotten him pulled from games early. But Jedd Fisch had to deal with Cam Newton’s noodle arm last year so I’m sure he can scheme up some things for McCloud.

RK: What kind of system did McCloud play in at USF?

NB: In 2019, he played in an uptempo pro concept offense and had his struggles (shoulder and wrist injuries hampered him). In 2020, it was more RPO, get the ball out quick to your “playmakers” and let them do the work. He’s smart enough to play in both systems, but things clicked in the final game of 2020.

RK: It seems like McCloud was a polarizing player among USF fans. Why is that?

NB: USF fans keep expecting Quinton Flowers to walk through the door. They are stuck in the past and it’s a detriment to any current player who isn’t the best player in program history. I’m definitely more of a McCloud fan than others. There’s a vocal minority who just like to be [jerks] to the kid.

RK: McCloud is now by far the most experienced QB on Arizona’s roster. How should Wildcat fans feel about the idea of him being the starter?

NB: He’s going to be a steady hand for the offense. If you need a game manager he’s your guy. He’ll have games where he looks like a star, but then had some absolute stinkers. His value as a person off the field will help build a program’s culture under a new head coach.

If you’re only as good as your last game, then I suggest to all UofA fans to watch that Black Friday game.