TAMPA — Though still a few days shy of his 38th birthday, Willie Taggart already has served as a head coach, coordinator and position coach for running backs and receivers at the college level.
Starting next Saturday, he'll add a new role to his resume: CEO.
Taggart, primary playcaller his first four seasons as a head coach, confirmed Friday that he's delegating that job to his offensive staff. Coordinator Paul Wulff will be on the sideline, with QB coach David Reaves in the box. Taggart won't reveal just how the plays will be signaled in.
"I'll still have some input," Taggart said. "But one thing I thought I could do a better job at is managing the game, and not just offense but the entire football team."
USF managed a Division I-A worst 11 offensive touchdowns in 2013 as players acclimated themselves to Taggart's offense, a hybrid of West Coast and power-run principles with some option and zone-read interspersed. Wulff already was highly familiar with it, having spent the previous two seasons as an offensive assistant to 49ers coach and former Taggart boss Jim Harbaugh.
"I'm not gonna get away from (playcalling)," Taggart said. "But again, I'm gonna have my hands on a little bit of everything and let those guys do their job and make sure we're doing what's best for our football team."
HUDDLE UP: All USF students are invited to the Morsani Practice Complex at 5 p.m. today to join the football team for the "Huddle," a free, pep rally-type gathering Students will form a huge huddle with players and coaches, hear a few words from Taggart and enjoy some free food in a tailgate setting.
UF: Backup QB, secondary jobs open
GAINESVILLE — Early enrollees Will Grier and Treon Harris, the top two ranked quarterbacks in the 2014 recruiting class, are competing for backup with redshirt sophomore Skyler Mornhinweg. Coach Will Muschamp said the coaching staff is getting close to making a decision. He added that the backup will play in the second quarter of the season opener next weekend.
The only two positions that are truly set in the secondary are All-SEC Vernon Hargreaves at cornerback and sophomore Keanu Neal at safety. Several players can rotate between cornerback and nickel, including Jabari Gorman and Brian Poole. Redshirt sophomore Marcus Maye can fit within the nickel rotation as well and has been getting reps at safety. Early enrollees Jalen Tabor and Duke Dawson are also being considered for the corner spot opposite Hargreaves. A couple of freshmen, J.C. Jackson and Quincy Wilson, have the skills to play both cornerback and safety.
McNEELY EARNS SCHOLARSHIP: Former Palm Harbor University WR Mike McNeely, a walk-on, was awarded a scholarship for his senior season. "Mike has been a fantastic special-teams player and just a wonderful young man, and has done everything we've asked him to do," Muschamp said. "He will be a huge contributor on special teams."
Morgan Moriarty, Times correspondent
FSU: Focus turns to Oklahoma State
TALLAHASSEE — Florida State began installing its game plan for Oklahoma State, its season-opening opponent. Coach Jimbo Fisher said his team is focusing on preparing for the eclectic formations and schemes the Cowboys have used on both sides of the ball in past years. "They're a very well-coached team that knows how to play hard, can create a lot of points on offense," he said. "Plays very physical on defense, creates a lot of pressures and different looks, from eight-man drops to coming to pressure the quarterback. Just a variety of things. And like I said, won 41 games in four years, so it's a well-coached, good team."
Making of a WR: Freshman John Franklin appears to be making a full transition to receiver. The 6-foot, 180-pound track standout lacks ideal size and polish to be a contributing quarterback at this point in his career, but his coach sees potential. "He'll have some roles at quarterback, but he's evolving into a receiver," Fisher said.
No Kidding: FSU and Ohio State got on board Thursday night and offered scholarships to the eighth-grade brother of 2015 running back Jacques Patrick. Peter Hayes, a 5-9½, 175-pounder who plays quarterback for his youth league team but can do about anything with his athleticism, is only five days into his eighth-grade year at Orlando's Avalon Middle School. Patrick, the 6-foot-2, 230-pound Timber Creek running back who is ranked No. 2 in the nation at his position by the 247Sports.com composite rankings, confirmed his brother's offers. Patrick is scheduled to announce his college choice on Peter's birthday, Oct. 27.
B-CU: Wildcats chase another MEAC title
DAYTONA BEACH — Bethune-Cookman coach Brian Jenkins is challenging his team to make history. The Wildcats checked off a slew of milestones last season, including the first win over a Division I-A opponent — Florida International in the season opener — and a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference title.
B-CU is favored to repeat as MEAC champ, but the team's next big goal is to make a deep run into the playoffs.
The roster is loaded with talent, with six Wildcats named to the preseason All-MEAC teams. C Andrew Edouard, DL LeBranden Richardson and S Marquis Drayton earned first-team honors; QB Quentin William of Jefferson High and DL Rony Barrow were named to the second team. WR Jhomo Gordon of Bayside earned third-team honors. B-CU also was ranked No. 23 in the preseason I-AA coaches poll.
"The guys should be willing to go through the process to reach the goals that we want to achieve," Jenkins told the school's website after the team's first preseason workout. "They should be willing to set the standard of execution high with effort, energy, detail and discipline at a high level as well. Then come back and consistently reach that standard in practice each and every day."
The Wildcats open at FIU on Aug. 30.