Taggart: USF's practices much better this week
If this week's practices -- staged in the season's most glorious weather to date -- are any sign, expect USF's offense to brandish far more efficiency Saturday against Connecticut than it did in last weekend against East Carolina.
The Bulls had arguably their worst Tuesday practice of the year before that 38-22 victory, finishing with a season-high 101 penalty yards and a fumble inside the ECU 10. This week's Tuesday practice? "A hell of a lot better this week than it was last week," Coach Willie Taggart said.
"Last Tuesday's practice wasn't good, and we always talk about how we want that practice to be really good and it wasn't, and it showed in the game for us offensively. But it was better (this week). I think our guys were a lot more focused and realize we can't practice like that and expect to go out and play like we want to."
CB Ronnie Hoggins, nursing a calf injury, did little in Thursday's non-padded walk-through and is probable for Saturday's game.
ARRIVE EARLY, PARK FREE: In an effort to increase student attendance, which regressed from astounding (for the FSU game) to abysmal (for East Carolina) in recent weeks, the school announced a free-parking incentive for Saturday.
The first 300 student-driven vehicles carrying four or more students that enter Lot 8 of Raymond James Stadium park for free. The lot, on the stadium's south side, can be accessed off Himes Avenue.
Drivers will be asked to show their valid USF student ID as they enter the lot.
ADAMS HONORED: Senior WR Rodney Adams, whose 25 catches lead the Bulls, has been named Student-Athlete of the Month by the National Association of Academic Advisors (N4A).
The award was created to recognized the achievements of individuals with "extraordinary stories" that have overcome "extreme adversities."
Adams, a Lakewood High alumnus, has flourished with the Bulls since transferring to USF following the death of his mother in a car accident his freshman season at Toledo. He's on track to graduate in the fall with a degree in public health.
"Life is much harder without my mother," Adams said in a USF news release, "but I am doing the most to make sure that I am making her happy as she watches down on me."
POWER SURGE? Though UConn showed some wrinkles (i.e. spread formations) in last week's 20-9 victory against Cincinnati, don't be shocked if the Huskies opt to run power behind an offensive line averaging 310 pounds, not to mention a pair of 260-pound tight ends.
UConn ranks only 116th nationally in rush offense (134.5 ypg), but the Bulls rank 104th against the run (209.8 ypg). Moreover, in each of USF's last four games, an opposing player has run for a season-high amount.
This week they faces Huskies junior RB Arkeel Newsome, coming off a season-best 116 yards (on only 14 carries) against Cincinnati.
"We've just got to line up and play," defensive coordinator Raymond Woodie said. "We've seen power, so we've just got to go in and understand what we're doing and fit the run and rally to the ball."
ODDS AND ENDS: In recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the Bulls are wearing pink accents on their uniforms, highlighted by pink helmet logos. ... The eligibility status of OL Glen Bethel (academics) hasn't changed, but the 315-pound junior college transfer still is practicing. Freshman Logan MacDonald remains second on the Bulls' depth chart at left tackle. ... The Bulls haven't lost a home conference game in more than a year, dating to the 24-17 defeat to Memphis last Oct. 2.
Getting run over?
In each of USF's last four games, an opponent has run for a season-high amount
Dontae Strickland, Syracuse: 30 carries, 127 yards, 0 TDs
Dalvin Cook, FSU: 28 carries, 267 yards, 2 TDs
Tion Green, Cincinnati: 12 carries, 98 yards, 1 TD
James Summers, East Carolina: 18 carries, 114 yards, 1 TD