Taggart says players, coaches must improve after FSU loss
Two days after his team's 20-point loss to FSU, Bulls coach Willie Taggart said no significant changes are on the immediate horizon, but performance -- by players and coaches -- must improve.
"We've got to be better at what we do," Taggart said Monday on the American Athletic Conference weekly coaches teleconference. "And we've got to make sure as coaches, we're putting our guys in the right position to be successful."
As a result of the loss, coupled with Syracuse's quick start against the Bulls (17 first-quarter points) two Saturdays ago, USF is ranked 100th among Division I teams in total defense (451.5 ypg) and tied for 118th in run defense (240.3).
No scheme adjustment -- from a 4-2-5 to a standard 4-3 -- seemed to work against FSU, which dominated the line of scrimmage and exploited USF's shoddy tackling. Offensively, USF totaled 450 yards, but gained 3 or fewer yards on first down (or turned the ball over) 16 of a possible 27 times.
Additionally, junior Marquez Valdes-Scantling, the team's second-leading receiver entering the game, didn't have a catch.
"All of it's correctable, we've got to get it corrected," said Taggart, whose team travels to 3-1 Cincinnati this weekend. "A lot of it is fundamentals, and then...as coaches we've got to make sure we're putting our guys in the best position they can be in so they can make the plays they need to make."
INJURY UPDATE: Taggart said Monday that backup MLB Danny Thomas, on crutches following Saturday's game, is nursing a sprained ankle. TB Marlon Mack, who exited in the third quarter after getting poked in the eye, is fine.
Meantime, Cincinnati coach Tommy Tuberville said he's hopeful of getting a handful of injured starters back this week including QB Hayden Moore (ankle), who sat out the Bearcats' 27-20 victory Saturday against Miami (Ohio).
MACK CLOSING IN: Mack, who ran for 42 yards on 12 carries against FSU before exiting, needs 95 yards Saturday at Cincinnati to surpass Andre Hall (2,731 yards) as the Bulls' career rushing leader.
Saturday's contest will be Mack's 28th at USF. He missed one game due to injury last season and the Northern Illinois contest (concussion protocol) two weeks ago. Hall, who played only two seasons at USF after transferring from junior college, amassed his total in only 23 contests.
ODDS AND ENDS: Saturday's game at Cincinnati will be televised on ESPNU. ... The Bulls' Oct. 8 homecoming game against East Carolina will kick off at noon and be shown on ESPNews, the AAC confirmed Monday. ... In their latest bowl projections, ESPN's Mark Schlabach and Brett McMurphy both predict an N.C. State-USF matchup in the St. Petersburg Bowl. ... The Bulls still rank 21st nationally in total offense (501.5 ypg) and 12th in rushing (257.8). ... Though Quinton Flowers was sacked three times Saturday, USF still is allowing only 1.5 sacks a game, tied with Houston for least allowed in the conference.
AUDIBLE: "I know we heal differently, but I don't know if we heal that different." -- Taggart, when asked if there was a chance TB Darius Tice (broken ankle) can return this season