TAMPA — Two days after a shocking 53-21 loss to Division I-AA McNeese State in his debut as USF coach, Willie Taggart said Monday that his team must respond to adversity much better than the Bulls did as things unraveled Saturday night.
McNeese scored two touchdowns in a span of 24 seconds for a 16-7 lead, and added 17 more points before halftime, the most allowed in any quarter in USF history. Taggart said he felt some players "quit on us," something he would not tolerate.
"Going back and watching the film, I think our guys stopped playing with a lot of passion in that game," Taggart said Monday. "When things got bad, our guys started to look for more bad things to happen, got frustrated, stopped playing within this defensive system and tried really to play football their way and make plays rather stay within the scheme. … I know we're a better team than what we put out on Saturday. We have to play a heck of a lot better than we did the other night."
Taggart stressed that gap responsibility is crucial, and when players aren't careful about that, the defense is vulnerable to the big plays it allowed Saturday.
"When things got tough in that game, we stopped playing within the scheme of the defense," he said. "That's part of the whole culture change, getting our guys to believe no matter what. Play within the system, don't do your own thing. That's exactly what happened in that ballgame: We had guys that weren't in their gaps or were getting there too late."
Notes: Taggart said Matt Floyd, who started Saturday and threw two costly interceptions, and Bobby Eveld, who threw two TDs in the second half, will compete this week for the starting nod at Michigan State. Taggart said only that he'll decide later in the week. … Taggart said senior G Lawrence Martin, who was suspended from the opener for violating team rules last week, will play at Michigan State. … Two freshmen who did not dress against McNeese State, DT Bruce Hector (Gulf/Robinson) and FB Kennard Swanson, are expected to redshirt.
UCF: Week 1 honor
ORLANDO — UCF junior LB Terrance Plummer was named American Athletic Conference defensive player of the week after leading the Knights defense in a 38-7 win over Akron.
Plummer had 10 tackles, including three tackles for loss, and a pass break up in the win over Akron. UCF limited the Zips to seven points — against the second unit on the final possession — and 250 yards of offense.
Around the nation
Houston: LT Ralph Oragwu will miss the rest of the season after tearing his right ACL in the opener against Southern, the Houston Chronicle reported.
Indiana: Coach Kevin Wilson said he expects to play three quarterbacks again Saturday against Navy. Indiana opened with a 73-35 victory against Indiana State on Thursday in which Tre Roberson, Nate Sudfeld and Cameron Coffman played.
Michigan: Backup RB Drake Johnson is out for the season with a torn ACL sustained against Central Michigan.
Mississippi State: QB Tyler Russell (concussion) is doubtful for Saturday against Alcorn State, coach Dan Mullen said.
Nebraska: QB Taylor Martinez said his (non-throwing) left shoulder is fine, two days after he fell on it, and that he'll be full strength this week against Southern Mississippi.
Northwestern: CB Daniel Jones will have season-ending knee surgery after sustaining an injury in the first half Saturday against California. Also, QB Kain Colter is day to day after suffering a concussion
Oklahoma State: QB J.W. Walsh will start Saturday against Texas-San Antonio instead of Clint Chelf, who started the Cowboys' opener against Mississippi State. Walsh also played against the Bulldogs, as expected, and was 18-of-27 passing for 135 yards plus 125 yards and a touchdown rushing.
Information from Times wires was used in this report.