Taggart: Bring on the noon kickoffs
In what only can be attributed to the American Athletic Conference's TV partners, noon games lately have become the norm for USF.
If Willie Taggart had his way, they'd be a constant. Like most in his line of work, Taggart, whose team kicks off at noon Saturday against Connecticut in East Hartford, prefers the brunch-time kickoffs.
"I hate late games, hate 'em," the Bulls coach said.
"Going all day and thinking about all the things that can go wrong and go right: What are you gonna do now? What are you gonna do here? Then you watch some games and see things and start to worry. Just so much goes through your head, whereas you play a noon game, you get up, you're not watching any football because it's not on yet."
Saturday's contest will be the third in six USF games this season that will start noon or earlier. Additionally, the Bulls' Oct. 31 contest at Navy will kick off at noon, and the ensuing week's contest at East Carolina also appears destined for an early start.
"You get up early, you're eating, you're meeting and you're going to play," Taggart said.
The American's contract with its TV partners (ESPN and CBS Sports) calls for all conference-controlled games -- which encompasses all conference and home non-conference games -- to be televised. With Power Five contests getting most (but not all) of the Saturday prime-time slots, the American is plugged into the earlier windows.
But the league remains showcased in prime time on Thursdays and Fridays. USF has one more Friday night game (Nov. 20 vs. Cincinnati) as well as the Thanksgiving night contest at UCF.
LEADING, NOT LANGUISHING: Despite being edged by Quinton Flowers for the starting quarterback job in preseason camp, senior Steven Bench has maintained a stellar attitude, Taggart said Thursday. In three appearances, Bench has gone 8-for-13 for 140 yards, one TD and an interception; and has run for a TD.
Freshman Brett Kean currently is the No. 3 guy.
"Steven's been great," Taggart said. "I tell you, he comes and he's ready to practice every day, he's ready in meetings every day. He's Steven and he's always been that way.
"He's a coach's son and he understands how it goes, and as a coach you appreciate him because he could be the other way. But I think he's such a mature young man that he understands he's one play away and if he acts any other way, he's not gonna prepare himself the right way to be in there. You think about the kind of offense we run, that could happen any play."
ODDS AND ENDS: Wake-up call for the Bulls is 7 a.m. Saturday. ... At 409 total yards per game, the Bulls are on pace for the third-most prosperous season in program history. ... With three offensive TDs Saturday, USF will equal its total (22) for all of 2014. It already has zoomed past its 2013 total (11).