Sunday, June 17, 2018
Colleges

USF Bulls seek positive end to dismal season

TAMPA — It has been a season of steady disappointment, of frustrating finishes and increasingly difficult losses, of mounting injuries and angry fans and questions about the future of USF football.

And while all that isn't likely to change in the big picture with the outcome of tonight's season finale against Pittsburgh, USF's seniors are still hoping to end their college careers with the consolation of a home victory on the way out.

"It's a huge motivation. I don't think anyone wants to go out a so-called loser," said tight end Evan Landi, one of a handful of seniors returning from injury for their last game. "We'd love to win this game for the seniors, and to start next year on a positive path for the younger guys."

The Bulls bid farewell to 25 seniors tonight, but fans have already said early good-byes to key players such as quarterback B.J. Daniels and running back Lindsey Lamar, who have been out with injuries. Other starters have fallen into backup roles, and only one senior, defensive tackle Cory Grissom, has been able to start every game, but all have the same mentality of doing everything possible to find a happy ending to a difficult year.

"It'll be a very high level of motivation. There will be some things that happen in this game, positive things … and we'll be like, 'Dang, where has that been all year?'" senior linebacker Sam Barrington said. "It'll be a more emotional game. Guys will be into it more because it's the last game."

There could be more than seniors gone from this year's team. There is lingering uncertainty about coach Skip Holtz. While he is likely to return for 2013, there could be changes to his coaching staff, especially on defense, where three close losses came with late leads surrendered on 75-yard touchdown drives.

The continued struggles have already cost USF some of its fan base; today's actual attendance might be the lowest in the Big East era, reminiscent of the Bulls' 2004 home finale against Pittsburgh, a hurricane-delayed game that drew an announced 23,417 for a 43-14 loss to end a 4-7 season. USF's last home game, a win against Connecticut four weeks ago, had an announced attendance of 36,190, but the actual crowd was 20,605, which means as much as 43 percent of the tickets distributed weren't actually used at the game.

As driven as the senior class might be to forge one final positive memory, the motivation might be greater for the increasing number of underclassmen stepping into key roles. The returning nucleus of current freshmen and sophomores might see a turnaround in USF's future, but they want that to start tonight, as something they can give back to the outgoing seniors.

"We have to go out on a good note for them," sophomore center Austin Reiter said. "They've put all their time in for us. This is a way for us to pay it forward."

For players at least, the momentum of a season-ending win would help lift some of the negativity off the program, though they're well aware there will be no shortage of offseason motivation from a 4-8 record that fell well short of lofty expectations.

"We know what we're capable of. I think that's the biggest thing everybody's going to realize: 'Hey, when everything's cohesive and working real well, we can pull out the wins,' " Reiter said.

Comments
Florida’s Brady Singer voted top college baseball player of year

Florida’s Brady Singer voted top college baseball player of year

OMAHA, Neb. — Florida pitcher Brady Singer has won the Dick Howser Trophy as college baseball's player of the year.Singer, who received the award Friday, carries a 12-1 record and 2.30 ERA into the College World Series, which begins Saturday. T...
Published: 06/15/18
Former Plant QB Rex Culpepper cancer-free; ready to return to Syracuse lineup

Former Plant QB Rex Culpepper cancer-free; ready to return to Syracuse lineup

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Rex Culpepper is back. The smile on his face said it all. The redshirt sophomore quarterback had his first full workout with Syracuse on Friday after overcoming testicular cancer. He said he broke down and cried when he was told he w...
Published: 06/15/18
Willie Taggart comes clean on the origin of ‘Do Something’

Willie Taggart comes clean on the origin of ‘Do Something’

During his question-and-answer session with more than 500 Manatee-Sarasota boosters Monday evening, FSU's Willie Taggart was peppered with the normal inquiries about recruiting, offensive scheme and the Seminoles' quarterback derby.All well and good....
Published: 06/12/18
When Willie Taggart filled in for Tommie Frazier at Manatee High

When Willie Taggart filled in for Tommie Frazier at Manatee High

It would have been easy — expected, even — for Willie Taggart to be nervous when he started in place of the injured Tommie Frazier as Manatee High's starting quarterback in 1991.Nope. Taggart wasn't, even though he was the first...
Published: 06/12/18
FSU football coach Willie Taggart gets local hero’s welcome

FSU football coach Willie Taggart gets local hero’s welcome

SARASOTA — He slithered and scrambled his way into the local consciousness in the fall of 1991.Manatee High's Willie Taggart, 145 pounds in a sopping jersey, suddenly found himself with the keys to the Hurricanes' ruthlessly efficient opti...
Published: 06/11/18
Updated: 06/12/18
Florida Gators add West Virginia grad transfer Adam Shuler

Florida Gators add West Virginia grad transfer Adam Shuler

Former West Virginia defensive lineman Adam Shuler announced Monday that he plans to join the Gators as a graduate transfer.Shuler, a 6-foot-4, 268-pound Longwood native, started 10 games for the Mountaineers last season. As a redshirt sophomore, he ...
Published: 06/11/18
Florida State’s Jessica Warren lives ‘every senior’s dream’ with Women’s College World Series title

Florida State’s Jessica Warren lives ‘every senior’s dream’ with Women’s College World Series title

OKLAHOMA CITY — Jessie Warren’s career finished just the way she envisioned it. On Monday night, Florida State’s star third baseman made perhaps the play of her career, a diving catch and throw for a double play that helped preserve a 1-0 win over Wa...
Published: 06/06/18
Florida Gators hire former Auburn AD Jay Jacobs

Florida Gators hire former Auburn AD Jay Jacobs

Former Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs is joining Florida as its executive associate athletic director, the Gators announced Tuesday afternoon."Florida Athletics is fortunate to have someone of Jay's caliber joining the (University Athletic Assoc...
Published: 06/05/18
What Mississippi State says about Dan Mullen’s September homecoming

What Mississippi State says about Dan Mullen’s September homecoming

I haven't yet ranked every college football game in the state (as I did last year), but here's a spoiler: Dan Mullen's return to Starkville on Sept. 29 will be very high.The Florida Gators' new coach hasn't shied away from his Mississippi State homec...
Published: 06/05/18
Ray Lewis, Lomas Brown, Simeon Rice among College Football Hall of Fame nominees

Ray Lewis, Lomas Brown, Simeon Rice among College Football Hall of Fame nominees

Eleven former players/coaches with state ties are up for consideration for the College Football Hall of Fame.Notables notables on the ballot, released Monday morning, include:Florida OT Lomas Brown: 1984 All-American and two-time all-SEC talent helpe...
Published: 06/04/18