Strained hamstring sidelines USF's Marlon Mack
Sophomore TB Marlon Mack, currently the American Athletic Conference's No. 3 rusher (114.8 ypg), missed Sunday's practice with a mild hamstring strain, Coach Willie Taggart confirmed Monday.
Mack sustained the injury late in the Bulls' 28-20 win Saturday at Connecticut, where he amassed 113 yards on 13 carries, and told reporters afterward is was "just a cramp." On his last carry, on the game's final drive, he ran for 14 yards on third-and-1 to allow the Bulls to run out the clock.
Speaking on the AAC's weekly coaches teleconference Monday, Taggart seemed unconcerned.
"He didn't practice (Sunday) but his hammy's okay," said Taggart, whose team won't practice again until Tuesday. "A little strained in the hamstring. We've got to do a great job of rehabbing this week but Marlon should be fine."
DAUNTING SOS FOR SMU: SMU (1-5, 0-2 AAC) arrives Saturday at Raymond James Stadium armed with only one victory and unquestionably the league's toughest schedule so far.
The combined record of the five teams to defeat the Mustangs is 30-3. Among them are No. 2 Baylor (6-0), No. 4 TCU (7-0) and James Madison (7-0), fifth in the Division I-AA rankings.
The Mustangs trailed by single digits in the second half against both Baylor and TCU before falling 56-21 and 56-37, respectively. JMU, which welcomes ESPN's College GameDay to its campus this weekend, topped the Mustangs 48-45.
Perhaps not coincidentally, SMU is allowing 570.7 yards per game, which ranks 125th nationally in Division I-A.
"Obviously we've faced some very talented opponents, and I think the record speaks for itself on what we've faced," said first-year Mustangs coach Chad Morris, whose team is coming off a bye week.
"And we've been in it, every one of the games. I think the biggest thing with my guys here is just learning how to finish, and learning how that when adversity hits you, we've got to withstand it, we've got to be able to survive it."
ADAMS, BYRD HONORED: Junior WR Rodney Adams and senior husky Jamie Byrd were named to the AAC's weekly honor roll on Monday.
Adams, playing with a sore left knee, had a career afternoon (five catches, 118 yards, three TDs) against UConn. Byrd had 12 tackles, two sacks, 3.5 tackles for loss and two QB hurries.
Beating out Byrd for defensive player of the week honors? East Carolina's Josh Hawkins, who had a 100-yard pick-six Satuday against Tulsa.
ODDS AND ENDS: In his latest weekly bowl projections, ESPN's Mark Schlabach projects USF (3-3, 1-1) to face Midddle Tennessee State in the Dec. 26 St. Petersburg Bowl. ... At the season's midway point, the Bulls rank 56th nationally in total offense (418.0 ypg). Through six games last season, they were 118th (294.5). ... Speaking of glaring upticks, the Bulls' 233 rushing yards per game (15th nationally) are nearly 105 more than they were averaging at the halfway point of 2014 (128.3).
AUDIBLE: "I think our guys are starting to buy in. They're seeing everything we've been coaching and preaching is starting to pay off for us, and each game you win, you get more confident, especially with a young football team. Our guys have a lot of confidence, but they also know that each week they've got to practice the way they've been practicing, and then go out and play with tremendous effort and energy and just make those winning plays." -- Taggart, whose program can notch its first three-game win streak since 2011 with a victory Saturday against SMU