TAMPA — Not many things can make USF feel like its program has been around a long time, but Saturday brings a milestone of sorts. Western Kentucky's Willie Taggart becomes the first opponent to face the Bulls as a player and a head coach.
Taggart has a place in USF history. He helped Western Kentucky become the first visiting team to win in Raymond James Stadium.
Taggart rallied the Hilltoppers from a 17-0 deficit in 1998 to a 31-24 victory, rushing for 206 yards and three touchdowns as an option quarterback.
"All I can remember is him. He was phenomenal," said USF tight ends coach Larry Scott, an offensive lineman for the Bulls in that game. "He basically took the team on his shoulders and took them to victory."
Bulls graduate assistant Glenn Davis, a USF defensive back who faced Taggart in 1997 and 1998, got an interception off him in the Bulls' 31-3 loss during their first season.
Taggart, a Bradenton Manatee graduate, will spend plenty of time in the Tampa area beyond this weekend. The first-year coach has recruited in the area extensively, signing 15 freshmen from Florida in February. That group includes brothers Xavius and Bar'ee Boyd, true freshmen from Lakewood who have played at linebacker, getting four and two tackles, respectively.
FAST STARTS: The Hilltoppers lost their first three by a combined score of 150-59, but they took early leads against Kentucky and Indiana with a 59-yard touchdown run and a 91-yard TD drive, respectively. Western Kentucky has lost 23 straight dating to 2008. In 13 previous games against BCS conference opponents dating to 2002, it has not scored more than 14 points.
STILL WAITING: WR Dontavia Bogan has not practiced since injuring his right ankle against Florida 11 days ago. He watched Wednesday with a boot on the foot. Coach Skip Holtz won't rule him out for Saturday. WR Sterling Griffin, out since dislocating an ankle this summer, is expected to return Oct. 9 against Syracuse.
Greg Auman, Times staff writer
UF: Hoping for Rainey
GAINESVILLE — C Mike Pouncey believes suspended WR Chris Rainey will return this season.
"He'll be back,'' Pouncey said. We just don't know when."
Rainey is charged with aggravated stalking in an incident with an on-off girlfriend.
Pouncey and Rainey attended Lakeland High together, and Rainey temporarily lived with Pouncey's family.
moody back: RB Emmanuel Moody (thigh bruise) returned to practice.
Tyler Jett, Times correspondent
UM: Coaching ties
CORAL GABLES — Miami coach Randy Shannon and Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt, whose ties date back 25 years, face off for the first time tonight.
"He's a very close friend of mine," Shannon said. "He knows me, and I know him, so it'll be fun to go in and play them."
Shannon played linebacker for UM when Wannstedt was the defensive coordinator, then again when Wannstedt was the Cowboys' coordinator.
As Dolphins coach, Wannstedt promoted Shannon from defensive assistant to linebackers coach.
Shannon became UM's defensive coordinator the next year and credits the promotion from Wannstedt for "why I'm at where I am now."
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
UCF: Confident QB
ORLANDO — Freshman Jeff Godfrey said he has been preparing to be a college starting quarterback his whole life.
"My father put a lot of pressure on me when I was young," said Godfrey, given permission by coach George O'Leary to do his first interview of the season.
"I was brought up for this, and that's what I got recruited for."
He said the Knights need to remain confident to win big at Kansas State on Saturday.
"Just go out there and have fun," Godfrey said. "Don't play nervous. Just do what you've got to do. Do your assignment. That's it."