Branches from Harbaugh tree intertwine Saturday
Eight autumns after they periodically matched wits as fellow Jim Harbaugh lieutenants at Stanford, USF's Willie Taggart and Syracuse's Scott Shafer meet again Saturday.
And Taggart, the Cardinal running backs coach in 2007, has a pretty good idea of what's coming from Harbaugh's former defensive coordinator.
“I expect them to blitz. I expect them to blitz and I expect them to blitz and I expect them to blitz some more," Taggart said Tuesday.
Such is the modus operandi of Shafer and Orange defensive coordinator Chuck Bullough, expected to harass Bulls sophomore QB Quinton Flowers from every direction. Led by junior ends Ron Thompson and Luke Arciniega (four sacks each), Syracuse ranks 24th nationally with 2.75 sacks a game.
"You’ve got to be sound in your protection and in your run scheme, and making sure you get a hat on a hat with some of the blitzes that they do," Taggart said.
PROMOTION FOR 'PICK-SIX': Freshman CB Ronnie Hoggins, who totaled five tackles and a pass breakup in his first career start Friday against Memphis, remains No. 1 on the depth chart this week. His backup, veteran Johnny Ward, missed one game with a hip pointer but played against the Tigers.
"There's not a day that he's been here that he didn't make a play," Taggart said. "We call him 'Pick-Six,' because he did it in high school and came here and started doing it in practice, and he almost had one the other day (in the second half against Memphis), which would've been big. But he's always around the ball."
'CUSE QB RETURNS: Shafer said on his weekly Cuse.com video Monday that freshman Eric Dungey, the second of three starting quarterbacks already used by the Orange this season, is "ready to go" after taking a shot to the head in a Sept. 19 victory against Central Michigan. In three games (two starts), Dungey, atop this week's depth chart, is 21-for-36 for 428 yards, five TDs and no interceptions.
ODDS AND ENDS: Neither USF nor Syracuse have lost a fumble this season. ... Upon reviewing the Memphis tape, Taggart said the defensive line particularly was "outstanding. I thought we put a lot of pressure on Paxton Lynch and that affected him a little bit." ... The Bulls will try to snap a five-game homecoming losing streak Saturday. In the 2012 homecoming encounter with Syracuse, the Orange scored on a 1-yard TD pass with three seconds remaining to rally for a 37-36 victory. ... Dave Ryan (play-by-play), Corey Chavous (analysis) and Lauren Gardner (sideline) will call Saturday's game for CBS Sports Network. ... Sophomore TB Marlon Mack is 66 rushing yards shy of 1,500 for his career. ... After spending the 2014 season primarily as a nickel back, sophomore Devin Abraham (13 tackles, one INT) said he feels more comfortable at his natural free safety spot. "Moving back at safety is more of a home feeling," he said.
AUDIBLE: “I don’t know where we all get that we’re just going to sling the ball, just throw it all around. We never said we were going to be that kind of football team. We’re playing to the strength of our football team, and that’s our running backs, and we’re going to run the football. We’ve said that from Day 1 that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to run it and we’re going to throw it off the run." -- Taggart
AUDIBLE II: "The way we look at it, we think we’ll be playing that team again (in the American Athletic Conference championship game). We’re going to correct some things and see to it that that happens.” -- Taggart, referring to Memphis