Good morning: Bulls rise at 3 a.m. for surprise workout
USF coach Willie Taggart roused his football players at 3 a.m. Wednesday for a surprise early session, with a workout that started at 4:30 and lasted through sunrise at the Vero Beach Sports Complex.
"I think it was by far one of our best practices since I've been here as head football coach," Taggart said by phone. "It was awesome. I was looking to see if we were going to have guys complaining and moaning about coming to practice in the morning. Guys had great attitude, came out and had a lot of energy, flying all around. After today's practice, I'm really, really excited about this football team. I was excited before, but I felt like we took a huge step this morning. Guys were like 'Coach, we should practice this early more often.'"
Taggart hasn't tried the middle-of-the-night workout before, but thought the idea carried out the theme of "getting comfortable being uncomfortable" that Ravens coach John Harbaugh told his players during a guest appearance last week.
"We're trying to put them in as many adverse situations as we can," Taggart said. "We have to learn to play no matter what the situation is. I'm really proud of the way the guys not only came out but executed as well."
Taggart said the players were riffing on his traditional "Who has it better than us?" mantra, saying "Who's up earlier than us? Nooooooobody."
QB UPDATE: Taggart said the QB play had mixed results Wednesday, but one play stood out during the scrimmage, when senior Bobby Eveld lined up with a play that had no set audible in place, only to see the defense lined up in ideal position to defend the play.
"We didn't have an audible but he did it himself, and that was great," Taggart said. "You can tell he's starting to really get an understanding of what we're trying to get out of our offense. I was really impressed with that. I thought 'We're dead,' and he called the right play and we gashed the defense on it. It was awesome."
Taggart said sophomore Steven Bench looked good running the ball, but the passing game overall wasn't where it has been.
THIS AND THAT: Taggart said safety Fidel Montgomery had an interception returned for a touchdown in practice. ... "Guy that really stood out was Reshard Cliett. He was just all over the place, all day long," Taggart said. ... He's pleased by the toughness he's seeing, with players suffering injuries in practice, taking a minute on the sidelines and returning to drills, as DT James "J.T." Hamilton did pushing through an elbow injury Wednesday. ... As a reward for the strong early-morning practice, Taggart will allow the players a team trip to the beach in Vero -- something the Bulls didn't do in three previous camps at Vero under Skip Holtz.