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Changes forthcoming for Bulls defense?

USF coach Willie Taggart likely will consider some defensive shake-ups following Friday's 46-30 loss to Temple.

OCTAVIO JONES | Times

USF coach Willie Taggart likely will consider some defensive shake-ups following Friday's 46-30 loss to Temple.

22

October

His post-defeat mood has transitioned over time.

When Willie Taggart's inaugural Bulls teams were simply being overmatched, he often conveyed a somber tone steeped more in resignation than rage, as if to suggest those early lumps were inevitable, but brighter days beckoned.

Now that Taggart's roster is deep and victories are regular instead of rare, defeat elicits a more acute sense of anger.

And after Friday night's embarrassing 46-30 loss to Temple, Taggart was downright ticked.

"We got physically dominated on both sides of the ball," he said. "We got out-coached."

While the breakdowns were prevalent in every phase, few will argue that USF's maligned defense was primarily culpable in this nationally televised debacle.

For the second time this season, the Bulls allowed an opposing tailback -- this time sophomore Ryquell Armstead -- to run for 200 or more yards. Only four other Division I teams -- Akron, Buffalo, Fresno State and California -- have allowed a pair of 200-yard rushing efforts this year, according to ESPN.

And for those keeping track, USF hasn't forced a turnover in its last two games.

Afterward, Taggart suggested -- in not-so-subtle terms -- changes are forthcoming on that unit. With Navy's triple-option machine invading Raymond James Stadium in six days, it seems inevitable. So what might USF do?

1. Change the scheme. You can almost bet your reserved tailgate spot the Bulls will shift from a 4-2-5 to a 4-3 for Navy, and perhaps the foreseeable future.

They have little choice. Upcoming opponents will watch Friday's film -- where the Bulls did employ some 4-3 -- and see how effectively Temple gashed the Bulls with their power-based approach. From here on, USF is likely to see pulling guards, fullbacks, and motioning tight ends aplenty.

That means more Cecil Cherry (one tackle Friday), more Danny Thomas (four tackles), more Nico Sawtelle (two). Perhaps an end such as 255-pounder Josh Black steps back to the second level. We're spit-balling a bit here, but at this critical juncture, all options probably should be in play.

2. Change the play-caller. At least three times during his brief postgame press conference, Taggart alluded to his staff's failure to "put guys in the position to make the plays."

Three times. That suggests -- strongly -- of coaches not making proper adjustments.

While today's collective outcry in cyberspace is for Taggart to replace first-year coordinator Raymond Woodie two-thirds of the way into the season, we don't see that. But could someone else (safeties coach John Jancek, d-line coach Eric Mathies) be summoned to call the plays?

Again, it's crisis mode. Presumably, everything's on the table.

3. Change the lineup. We see this as more conceivable than No. 2. We also see Taggart and Co. challenging the fortitude of his players this week with open competition at several spots. 

"We're gonna go home, watch the film, we're gonna let 'em think about who they want to be and what they want to do," Taggart said. "Watch the film and be honest with themselves and see if the effort that they put out was good enough."

[Last modified: Saturday, October 22, 2016 2:19pm]

    

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