Monday, May 21, 2018
Colleges

USF Bulls fall again to SMU

TAMPA — This was one night USF seemed to have fate in its huddle. The Bulls seniors were riding emotion while SMU was saddled with a backup quarterback. For a spell, Tampa's other two-win squad appeared destined for a momentum swing.

Just one problem: The penalties were mounting.

On a night when the Bulls' seniors were recognized and one (Ryne Giddins) got engaged, USF had too many self-inflicted mistakes. The result was a 16-6 loss to SMU before a season low (per Tampa Sports Authority) of 14,236.

"I've said it two or three weeks now, we can't keep beating ourselves," said coach Willie Taggart, whose team is averaging 13.7 penalties over its past three games. "We get something going and then we'll revert back to some old things after a big play or after we do something, shoot ourselves in the foot again. It killed us."

Only Chris Dunkley's 50-yard punt return with 2:24 to play prevented USF's first scoreless home game ever, and its first shutout since a 31-0 loss in 2009 at Rutgers.

Moments before the return, the offense provided a microcosm of this maddening season.

A first and goal from the 2 was set up when freshman Mike White (19-for-34, 217 yards, two interceptions) found Andre Davis for a 73-yard pass. But three consecutive penalties pushed the Bulls back to the 17.

Four White incompletions later, the Mustangs had the ball and USF (259 total yards) had been blanked by the nation's 98th-ranked defense. The Bulls (2-8, 2-4 American Athletic Conference) finished with 13 penalties for 107 yards.

"We're the type of offense that can't play from behind and (Taggart) stresses that," Davis said. "To get down there in the red zone and have penalties, it's heartbreaking, because we know we should've turned that into points."

USF, using five and six defensive backs, contained a ball-control passing attack. SMU (5-5, 4-2) had 280 yards, more than 200 below its average.

"I tell you what's frustrating is, our defense played outstanding," Taggart said.

By halftime, Mustangs quarterback Garrett Gilbert, the nation's total offense leader (405.7 ypg) coming in, had left after sliding awkwardly on a run and injuring his left knee.

But USF, down 3-0 at that point, couldn't capitalize.

The Bulls were whistled for holding twice on their second drive, the first negating an 80-yard off-tackle burst by Marcus Shaw. On their third drive, center Austin Reiter was called for a false start on third and 7.

"It's extremely frustrating," Reiter said.

On SMU's opening drive of the second half, defensive tackle Luke Sager was whistled for roughing SMU backup Neal Burcham; SMU scored nine plays later for a 9-0 lead. The Mustangs made it 16-0 when Burcham hit Der'rikk Thompson on fourth and 1 for a 37-yard touchdown.

To that point, SMU had been whistled for no penalties. It finished with one.

"As a defense, we had some penalties too like holds, and we didn't get those calls, so I'm a little frustrated about that," defensive end Aaron Lynch said. "But them giving calls to the other team, it is what it is."

Joey Knight can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @TBTimes_Bulls.

     
                                             
Comments
Willie Taggart will take more fourth-down chances than Jimbo Fisher. But how many more?

Willie Taggart will take more fourth-down chances than Jimbo Fisher. But how many more?

TAMPA — Florida State coach Willie Taggart fielded an interesting question near the end of his Q&A with fans during Sunday's booster stop at Armature Works.Are the Seminoles going to be going for it more on fourth down?"We will be goin...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Athlon: Florida Gators, FSU and Miami will all finish in top 20

Athlon: Florida Gators, FSU and Miami will all finish in top 20

One of the first big nuggets from preseason college football magazines is out: Athlon's top 25.The site considers its rankings a prediction of where teams will be at the end of the year, not the beginning.Alabama and Clemson are 1-2 (no shock). Miami...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Taggart delivers a bolt to area

Taggart delivers a bolt to area

TAMPA — After spending four years as USF’s football coach, Willie Taggart knows what to expect this time of year in the area, so it’s no surprise how he began a chat with reporters Sunday before a booster stop at Armature Works."Go Lightning," he sai...
Published: 05/20/18
Willie Taggart: ‘Pretty cool’ to be back in Tampa as FSU coach

Willie Taggart: ‘Pretty cool’ to be back in Tampa as FSU coach

TAMPA – After spending four years as USF's football coach, Willie Taggart knows what to expect this time of year in the area, so it's no surprise how he began a chat with reporters Sunday before a booster stop at Armature Works."Go Lightning," ...
Published: 05/20/18
ACC football announces early kickoff times, TV info for FSU, Miami games

ACC football announces early kickoff times, TV info for FSU, Miami games

The ACC has released some kickoff and TV information for the first three weeks of the season:Week 1 (previously announced)Miami vs. LSU (in Arlington, Texas): Sunday, Sept. 2, 7:30 p.m., ABCVirginia Tech at Florida State: Monday, Sept. 3, 8 p.m., ESP...
Published: 05/18/18
Why FSU playing Boise State in Jacksonville is a smart risk

Why FSU playing Boise State in Jacksonville is a smart risk

Old, unofficial news is expected to become old, official news today with a formal announcement that Florida State and Boise State are kicking off the 2019 season in Jacksonville.  A lot has changed since the schools announced the series (FSU pla...
Published: 05/16/18
FSU-Boise State to open 2019 season in Jacksonville

FSU-Boise State to open 2019 season in Jacksonville

What had been an open secret for months is now open and shut: Group of Five power Boise State will face FSU at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville in the teams' 2019 opener.A formal announcement is expected Wednesday, but the '19 schedule on Boise's offi...
Published: 05/15/18
RHP Mark Moclair’s versatility proves valuable to University of Tampa

RHP Mark Moclair’s versatility proves valuable to University of Tampa

TAMPA — He’s the accidental pitcher who can’t be pigeonholed into a defined role. He’s a well-spoken economics major who morphs into fire-breathing intensity on the mound. And he’s one of the biggest reasons why the University of Tampa Spartans are p...
Published: 05/15/18
Police: Florida Gators recruit Justin Watkins kicked female’s car, broke her phone

Police: Florida Gators recruit Justin Watkins kicked female’s car, broke her phone

One of the Florida Gators' top incoming recruits was released from jail early Wednesday after police allege he kicked a female's car and broke her phone after an argument.Justin Watkins — a four-star athlete from Clermont — and ...
Published: 05/10/18
Why Gators’ Dan Mullen still name-drops his second grade teacher

Why Gators’ Dan Mullen still name-drops his second grade teacher

When first-year Gators coach Dan Mullen spoke to a packed crowd at the Tampa Yacht and Country Club this winter, he told stories about the stars Florida fans recognize instantly.Tim Tebow. Steve Spurrier. Percy Harvin.Then he name-dropped someone els...
Published: 05/10/18