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Taggart says Bulls must be 'locked in' for opener



Here are Tuesday's practice notes from Times correspondent Jeff Odom. ...

TAMPA -- USF coach Willie Taggart wants his players to be focused and ready to put up a fight in Saturday's season opener against McNeese State.

"By no means do I think it is going to be an easy game for us," Taggart said Tuesday. "We've got to come locked in and ready to play. ... I look at this like this is the game for us. We haven't won in a long time and we're going to have to take care of them and we're not going to hold anything back."

Taggart pointed to McNeese State's rushing attack, led by HB Marcus Wiltz, who had a team-high 651 yards for the I-AA program last season, as a possible area of concern for his defense. But senior LB DeDe Lattimore said they are prepared.

"I've been watching a lot of film on McNeese. They're a great team and a great program," Lattimore said. "Offensively, they do a lot of running. (We have to) watch out for the Wildcat, a lot of formations, (and) a lot of unbalanced (lines). We've just got to be disciplined."

USF is 11-0 all-time when opening the season at Raymond James Stadium and last played McNeese State in 2006, earning a 41-10 win.

BIRTHDAY SURPRISE: Taggart celebrated his 37th birthday Tuesday. He said it was the first time in 20 years he saw his mother, Gloria James, on his birthday, because of prior schedule conflicts from playing or coaching out of state. She made the trip from Palmetto to give him a cake.

INJURY UPDATE: G Thor Jozwiak (irregular heartbeat) and DE Julius Forte (knee surgery) are improving, Taggart said. Their status for Saturday, however, remains uncertain.

[Last modified: Tuesday, August 27, 2013 10:58pm]


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