Taggart hoping for 'rocking' RayJay on Saturday
Five days before one his program's biggest home games in recent memory, Coach Willie Taggart reiterated the need for excellence in all four phases.
Fourth being fan support. Taggart said it will be essential Saturday night against 21st-ranked Temple in a game shaping up as arguably the most meaningful November home contest -- in terms of conference implications -- in a decade.
"Our guys are gonna need our entire Bull nation behind us against this opponent, and we expect for 'em to be there," Taggart said. "This is what we all want, playing for something this time of year, and we're doing it now. We need everybody's help."
Not since 2005 have the Bulls entered Raymond James Stadium this late in the season with their chances for a conference crown still legitimately in play, and they have the American Athletic Conference's divisional split to thank for it.
Temple (8-1, 5-0) clinches the East division with a win, but USF (5-4, 3-2) can capture the East if it upsets the Owls, defeats Cincinnati and winless UCF the following two weeks, and gets some help with another Temple loss to Memphis or Connecticut.
"(The crowd) is gonna be huge," Taggart said. "I know one thing about RayJay, when it's rocking it's hard for any opponent to come in here and play. I've been on the other side of that coming in here playing (at Western Kentucky in '98) when that place is rocking. And that's how we need it Saturday night."
SANCHEZ HONORED: MLB Auggie Sanchez, who recorded a team-best 11 tackles (including three for loss) Saturday at ECU, was named to the AAC's weekly honor roll Monday. The Northeast High alumnus' nine tackles per game is tied for fourth in the league and tied for 30th in Division I-A.
"I talked to Auggie (Sunday) about his consistency and how he's playing, and he's been that way week-in and week-out," Taggart said. "He's been our bellcow on defense and really inspires everyone else on that side of the ball to play at a high level."
ON LOCKDOWN: For the second time this season, the Bulls defense essentially neutralized one of the league's most prominent receivers Saturday, holding East Carolina junior Isaiah Jones to two catches for 8 yards.
Jones and SMU's Courtland Sutton, who rank fourth and third in the AAC, respectively, in receiving yards per game, combined for five receptions for 64 yards and a TD against USF. Perhaps not coincidentally, the Bulls totaled four sacks and 14 tackles for loss in those two contests.
"I thought our defensive line played outstanding (Saturday) and put some pressure on their quarterback, and it also helped that we were playing in a wet ball game, so they probably didn't throw it to (Jones) as much as they wanted to," Taggart said.
"But we challenged our guys this week. We knew who they were gonna throw the ball to, and challenged our guys to step up to it."
NADELMAN'S JOB SAFE: Following his clutch performance Saturday at East Carolina, which included a 39-yard fourth-quarter field goal, sophomore walk-on Emilio Nadelman will remain the Bulls kicker, Taggart confirmed Monday.
Taggart re-opened the kick competition last week after Nadelman converted only six of his first 11 field goals (including one of five from 40 or more yards) in the first eight contests. He shanked a 23-yard try in the second quarter Saturday, but Taggart said the laces were turned the wrong way on the hold.
"Very, very high confidence in Emilio," Taggart said.
ODDS AND ENDS: Following his fifth 100-yard rushing effort of the season (27 carries, 117 yards) at East Carolina, sophomore Marlon Mack ranks 29th in rushing in Division I-A (104.4 ypg). Mack needs only 124 yards to become the fifth Bull to reach 2,000 for his career. ... USF now ranks eighth nationally in tackles for loss (8.0 per game). ... Dave Ryan (play-by-play), Corey Chavous (analysis) and Melanie Collins (sidelines) will call Saturday's game for CBS Sports Network.