TAMPA — With home losses against McNeese State and Florida Atlantic — plus Saturday’s looming visit by the No. 15-ranked Miami Hurricanes — it might be difficult to muster optimism for the University of South Florida Bulls (0-3).
Not for USF coach Willie Taggart.
“If I thought like everybody else, we’d definitely be in trouble as a football program,’’ Taggart said. “I’m the leader of this program. I’m the one who has to get it done. I can’t think like anyone else.
“We’ve got to keep our heads down and keep working. I understand where we are as a football team. Yes, we lost some games we felt like we should’ve won, but we haven’t played good football. (We’ve got to) understand we’re the reason why we did lose those games. Because of those losses, it just makes it that much worse than what it is. … People want to win. All I ask is once we get it rolling, get back on board.’’
Miami coach Al Golden, who professed great respect for USF this week and termed it as a “rivalry game,’’ said he doesn’t think the Bulls are that far away.
“I told the team, ‘Throw out Week One (loss against McNeese State),’ ‘’ Golden said. “New staff, first game. I’ve been there. I know what it’s like. … Their front seven is as good as anybody. … They’re probably saying, ‘We just need to fix some of the turnovers.’ We’re getting ready for a fist fight, man on man. That’s what it’s going to be. Records don’t matter.
“All you have to do is turn on the (USF) film to get their attention. If not for the turnovers, the season would be dramatically different for the Bulls. (Sean) Price is a big-league tight end. (Marcus) Shaw is one of the best running backs. (Andre) Davis is a deep threat. … They present a number of problems.’’
BULLS BITS: Taggart said LB Reshard Cliett, who missed the Florida Atlantic game with a shoulder injury, is expected to play. Freshman LB Nigel Harris, who had a team-leading 12 tackles against FAU as Cliett’s replacement, also will play, said Taggart, who termed SS JaQuez Jenkins (leg) as “doubtful.’’ …Taggart said he won’t hesitate to pull the redshirt off a freshman player to have a more productive team. He expects to utilize DT Derrick Calloway, a prized recruit from Bradenton Manatee High, against Miami. Taggart also mentioned RB Darius Tice, OL Dominique Threatt, DB Nate Godwin, DB Johnny Ward and DB Lamar Robbins as other freshmen who could assume important roles. …UM is traveling by bus and will arrive Friday in Tampa.