Taggart: Thigh injury on Flowers' mind at Navy
The ongoing effort by USF coaches to unclog the Bulls' minds so they can perform more naturally and instinctively in games hit a minor snag Saturday at Navy.
The way Coach Willie Taggart saw it, QB Quinton Flowers was thinking a bit too much.
Taggart said the dual-threat sophomore was nagged physically and mentally by his left thigh contusion during Saturday's 29-17 loss. Flowers, who said afterward he was "about 80 percent" physically, collected 223 total yards, but only 15 came on the ground.
"I thought in that ball game he did some good things but he didn't play the game like he's capable of playing a game," Taggart said Monday on the American Athletic Conference weekly coaches teleconference.
"I thought he had some misreads in the run game and some misreads in the pass game that was unlike Quinton, but he did make some plays to keep us in that game. I thought...he thought a lot more about his injury than just playing the game, and that held him back a little bit in that football game."
But Taggart indicated Flowers hardly was the lone offensive culprit Saturday, when USF ran for a season-low 62 yards and finished 3-for-11 on third down.
"I thought maybe the (Navy) d-line really controlled the line of scrimmage. I didn't think we did a good job with our pad level and coming off the ball up front," he said.
"I think that caused some of it, and a lot of it was just finishing plays. ... For us, when we finished plays, there were too many guys standing around when our guys were getting tackled rather than blocking guys, and that goes for the o-line, receivers, tight ends."
WARD REMORSEFUL: Taggart said junior CB Johnny Ward is "handling his consequences" for the critical fourth-quarter unsportsmanlike-conduct flag he drew at Navy, but confirmed Ward will travel and be available for Saturday night's game at East Carolina.
Trailing by five with roughly six minutes to play, Ward was flagged immediately after the Bulls stopped Navy for a 2-yard gain on third-and-4 at the USF 34. Taggart said he was told Ward knocked the ball from an official's hand.
Shortly before midnight Saturday, Ward tweeted, "Keep my head up and promise to never do it again." When asked Monday if he had apologized to the team, Taggart said Ward didn't have to.
"I think he did (apologize) that night to a lot of his teammates and we all know what kind of player Johnny is and what kind of person he is," Taggart said.
"That was kind of out of character for Johnny. But it was a selfish play that we know as a team that we just can't have, especially against a good football team. So we all know Johnny will come back and make up a play for us. He's handling his consequences for that and then we'll move on."
ODDS AND ENDS: The Bulls' Nov. 14 home game against Temple has been placed on a six-day selection window by the conference's TV partners, meaning kickoff time won't be determined until early next week. ... Taggart said WR Rodney Adams, who appeared to get shaken up on his fourth-quarter kick return that resulted in a fumble, is fine. ... East Carolina enters Saturday night's game 113th in Division I-A in turnover margin (minus-0.89). The Pirates have 11 takeaways and 19 giveaways. ... ECU has scored a non-offensive TD in three of its last four contests. ... Following his 14-tackle effort Saturday, MLB Auggie Sanchez now ranks fifth in the league and 41st nationally in tackles (8.8 per game).
AUDIBLE: "For me personally, it's just great to see (that) when we do lose now, it really hurts our guys. They come back and get focused and they usually make up for it." -- Taggart