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USF's offense on pace to join state's elite

USF junior D'Ernest Johnson leads the Bulls with nine touchdowns this season.


USF junior D'Ernest Johnson leads the Bulls with nine touchdowns this season.



Only half of USF's season is in the books, and some stout opposing defenses (i.e. Connecticut, Temple) remain on the Bulls' schedule. But if the offense can stay on its current pace, it can go down in history.

Not simply program history. We're talking Panhandle-to-Peninsula lore.

Statistically, the Bulls offense is on pace -- over a 13-game stretch -- to rank among the best in Florida Division I history, according to some numbers crunched by the Bulls' sports-information department.

Example: At 44.5 points a contest, the Bulls are on track to score 578, which would be the third-most by a state school, behind only Florida's 1996 and 2008 national title teams (both of whom scored 611).

Moreover, USF is on track to score 78 touchdowns, which would trail only FSU's 2013 national title team (94) and Florida's '08 championship squad (82). If it reaches its projection of 6,535 total yards, that figure would rank eighth all-time among Florida's Division I programs.

Naturally, debate will rage over the Bulls' strength of schedule compared to the state's other programs. Far less disputable is the entertainment value being provided by Willie Taggart's squad, currently the nation's eighth-ranked scoring offense.

"They're fun to watch," Taggart said. "And it's something that we all wanted around here. ... My role is to put a good product on the football field, something that people want to watch and get excited about, and the rest should take care of itself."

STARTING ALREADY: If the mild criticism Taggart took for trying to tack on a late TD against East Carolina isn't a sign of the Bulls' progress, maybe this is:

Only six weeks into the season, Taggart already is being asked about his name being attached to other possible coaching vacancies. He has been mentioned as a potential replacement for Les Miles at LSU, and the speculation will intensify as the coaching-carousel conjecture gains steam in the next month.

"It means we're heading in the right direction. It means we're doing the things that we set out to do and that's a good thing," said Taggart, who is having a new house built in northern Hillsborough County (for what that's worth).

"If any of our names are being thrown out there about any of that, our guys are taking care of business here and I think that's what we all want. I'll take that other than the other way, I'll tell you that. Sounds a lot better."

ODDS AND ENDS: Taggart said CB Ronnie Hoggins (calf) sat out Tuesday's practice, but the sophomore isn't ruled out for Saturday's game against Connecticut. TE Kano Dillon (ankle) practiced. ... Saturday's contest will be USF's breast cancer awareness game, meaning they'll wear pink accents on their uniforms. ... With an average weight of 310 pounds, UConn could be one of the biggest offensive lines the Bulls face -- other than FSU. "Florida State looked like some of those skyscrapers downtown," Taggart said. ... Working Saturday's game for CBS Sports Network is the familiar trio of Dave Ryan (play-by-play), Corey Chavous (analysis) and Melanie Collins (sideline).

[Last modified: Tuesday, October 11, 2016 7:58pm]


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