Make us your home page

Joey Knight, Times Staff Writer

Joey Knight

A fourth-generation Floridian, Joey Knight was born in Tampa and raised in Zephyrhills, where he still resides. He moved to the Times in July 2006 after 15 years at the Tampa Tribune, which included a seven-year stint (1997-2004) as University of Florida beat writer. He began covering the University of South Florida athletic department for the Times in 2013. A married father of three, he enjoys running, classic television and classic heavy-metal music.

Phone: (813) 310-6328


  1. USF basketball rallies past Albany for first win; Kentucky next


    TAMPA — USF heads into Friday afternoon's neutral-site encounter with No. 1 Kentucky lacking an outside threat, solid depth and, according to most, a prayer. But at least one intangible won't be lacking.


    The Bulls' season-opening funk came to a sudden, surreal end Tuesday night at the Sun Dome. Junior Chris Perry's dunk of a deflected ball with nine seconds to play, and a Roddy Peters steal at the other end, lifted USF (1-4) to a 63-61 triumph against 2015 NCAA Tournament qualifier Albany (2-3) before an announced crowd of 2,712....

  2. Despite talk, Willie Taggart still calling plays for USF offense



    A series of recent sound bites, from commentators and coaches alike, has ignited speculation over who has orchestrated the Bulls' staggering offensive resurgence.

    Consider this snippet from CBS Sports Network analyst Corey Chavous during the Bulls' 44-23 rout of Temple: "Danny Hope has to be excited, (USF's) offensive coordinator, with what he's put together and how they're executing."...

    USF coach Willie Taggart lines up with his team to take the field for their game against Syracuse at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Saturday 10/10/2015.
  3. Know the Foe: UCF


    A look at UCF, which hosts USF on Thursday at Orlando's Bright House Networks Stadium

    Nickname: Knights

    Record: 0-11, 0-7 American Athletic Conference
    Wins: None
    Losses: vs. FIU, 15-14; at Stanford, 31-7; vs. Furman, 16-15; at South Carolina, 31-14; at Tulane, 45-31; vs. Connecticut, 40-13; at Temple, 30-16; vs. Houston, 59-10; at Cincinnati, 52-7; at Tulsa, 45-30; vs. East Carolina, 44-7

    Coach: Danny Barrett* (first season, 0-4)

    The breakdown: Few teams in recent Division I-A memory have plummeted as rapidly and profoundly as the Knights, who have been decimated by injuries and other forms of attrition since Day One. Collectively, the Knights have had 49 games missed by offensive starters or projected starters due to injury, and 31 by defensive starters (or projected starters). As a result, UCF has employed seven different starting offensive lines, and six different starting combinations in the secondary. Additionally, the Knights' 33 first-time starters this season is tied for the most nationally with (also-winless) Kansas. ... Among the battered Knights is junior QB Justin Holman (hand, ankle), who sustained a high-ankle sprain in last week's 44-7 loss to East Carolina but is expected to play Thursday. Holman, who lost essentially his entire receiving corps from last season, ranks 10th in the American Athletic Conference in passing (168.2 ypg). His top target, redshirt freshman Tre'Quan Smith, has established UCF freshman records for receptions (45) and yards (622). The run game, crippled when all-conference TB William Stanback was dismissed three games into the season, ranks last nationally (80.7 ypg). Leading rusher C.J. Jones has 329 yards -- 7 fewer than Bulls sophomore Marlon Mack has totaled in his last two games. Defensively, veteran coordinator Chuck Bresnahan -- dismissed from the same job at USF last December -- is almost certain to be job-hunting again this winter. His unit ranks 115th nationally (464.9 ypg) and is 126th in pass-efficiency defense (166.61).

    Odds and ends: UCF ranks third in Division I-A for fewest seniors; only nine are set to be recognized before Thursday's season finale. ... Twelve of the 17 Knights who signed with the program in February have played, compared with seven of USF's 21 signees. ... Lakewood High alumnus Shaquill Griffin leads UCF with two interceptions. ... LT Aaron Evans, an Armwood alumnus, is the only offensive lineman who has started every game at his position.

    Taggart's take: "I'm sure they're going through a lot, but they have some talent on their football team...and that talent's got to grow. We've been there before, but that's what you see on there, you see guys that are just trying to make it work. They're going through a tough situation right now."

    *-interim coach...

    UCF quarterback Justin Holman has been hampered by various injuries during most of the Knights' 0-11 season.
  4. USF coaches figure to get inspired effort out of 0-11 UCF


    TAMPA — Collectively, USF's staff has coached or played in some of the nation's top rivalries including Oklahoma-Texas, Florida-FSU, Mississippi State-Ole Miss and Stanford-Cal.

    After those experiences, Bulls coaches have had no problem reaching a consensus this week: They will get winless UCF's most inspired effort of the year.

    "You've got to be really mature as a team to not fall for what you see on film," said defensive coordinator Tom Allen, preparing his unit for a decimated Knights offense that ranks last in Division I-A (274.4 yards per game)....

  5. Fernandez adds 4 signees


    The team with one of the most global rosters in women's basketball went mostly domestic during the early signing period.

    USF announced its four November signees Monday, three of whom hail from the U.S. The foreign signee: 5-foot-9 G Enna Pehadzic, who led Denmark's under-18 national team in scoring (17.6 ppg) during this past summer's European Championship.

    The current Bulls roster features seven foreign-born players.

    "Enna will bring depth to our backcourt," Coach Jose Fernandez said in a USF news release. "She can play the point guard and the shooting guard position. I’m excited about her being with our program."

    The other signees: 6-3 F Jazzmaine Bond (Murfreesboro, Tenn.), 6-1 F Tamara Henshaw (Flagler Palm Coast) and 6-2 F Shae Leverett (Rincon, Ga.).

    Bond averaged 7.9 points, 7.3 rebounds and two blocks as a junior for Blackman High, which won Tennessee's Class 3A state title. Henshaw averaged a double-double (11.8 ppg, 10.7 rpg) for FPC, which reached the Class 8A state tournament last winter.

    Leverett, a 1,000-point career scorer from South Effingham High, averaged 16.9 points and 13.8 boards while earning 5A second-team all-state honors in Georgia.

    "With this class, we addressed the areas we needed," Fernandez said. "We needed to bolster our front line, and with the signing of Jazzmaine, Tamara and Shea, we added some key components to our line."

    In other USF news, the Bulls (2-1) moved up a spot -- from 19th to 18th -- in the latest Associated Press poll following Thursday's three-point loss at No. 5 Baylor....

  6. Bulls expecting UCF's best game of 2015


    Collectively, USF's staff has coached or played in some of the nation's most prominent rivalries including Oklahoma-Texas, Florida-FSU, Ole Miss-Mississippi State and Stanford-Cal.

    As a result of those experiences, the Bulls coaches have had no problem reaching a consensus this week: They will get winless UCF's most inspired effort of the year.

    "You've got to be really mature as a team to not fall for what you see on film," said defensive coordinator Tom Allen, preparing his unit for a decimated Knights offense that ranks last in Division I-A (274.4 ypg). "That's not what you're gonna see. These rivalry games bring out a whole different element. ... You can't discount that."

    On Monday, Allen recalled the 2013 Egg Bowl, a 17-10 Mississippi State overtime triumph in Starkville. Then Ole Miss' special teams coordinator/linebackers coach, Allen watched injured Bulldogs QB Dak Prescott (shoulder) come off the bench to rally the hosts, who entered the game 5-6.

    "Even though they weren't winless, they were still having a season that was less than they had hoped," Allen said. "But beating Ole Miss was all they needed to do to have a successful season."

    Interim Knights coach Danny Barrett, promoted after George O'Leary retired following UCF's 0-7 start, said his team will be motivated by all the rivalry's familiar elements: proximity of the schools, intensity of the matchup and the Knights' two-game win streak in the series.

    "It's our final home game, it's the last game for a handful of seniors that we have," Barrett said. "So our guys are gonna go out and play hard for sure and try to finish off this year with at least one positive in the midst of a tough year."

    NICHOLS HONORED: As expected, Bulls sophomore CB Deatrick Nichols was named American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of Week on Monday following his career game (two interceptions, one returned for a TD, eight tackles) in Friday's 65-27 rout of Cincinnati.

    "Other than giving up that long ball (on a Bearcats TD), he had a phenomenal game," Allen said. "The thing he does, he studies film better than anybody that I've had on the back end. Therefore, he anticipates and can jump routes. The pick-six he got was because of film study."

    EMPTYING THE BENCH: A fringe benefit to Friday's rout of Cincinnati was offensive line coach Danny Hope rotating liberally up front for one of the few times this season.

    Hope, who has used the same starting line all year and has substituted minimally the last couple of months, used 10 offensive linemen against Cincinnati.

    "It was good to get the (starters) out of there," Hope said after Monday morning's practice. "I think they were a little fresher and healthier to start this week off. There's been a lot of football in 2 1/2 weeks, so being able to play our (backups) is big in a lot of ways."

    Among those not used Friday was Stanford transfer Reilly Gibbons, essentially cementing his redshirt status this season.

    ODDS AND ENDS: In ESPN's latest bowl projections, Brett McMurphy projects a USF-Western Kentucky matchup in the Miami Beach Bowl, while Mark Schlabach predicts Bulls-Old Dominion in the St. Petersburg Bowl. ... Hope, who has been part of more rivalry games than any other staffer, said Colorado State-Wyoming (the "Border War") is the most underrated one he has experienced. "Unbelievable, and I've been in a bunch of (rivalries)," said Hope, a Wyoming assistant in 1996. "That one really caught me off-guard." ... Allen said he never has been associated with a first half like Friday's, when the Bulls built a 51-3 lead. "I don't even remember beating a bad team like that," he said.

    AUDIBLE: "They changed up some things offensively than what they did before. ... But the key is that Chuck was there. He knows the personnel, what type of players they are, what type of people that they are, and that's really the only advantage you would get." -- Barrett on whether Knights (and former USF) defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan can provide any type of edge for UCF...

    USF prepares to take the field before its upset of Temple earlier this month.
  7. Can ex-Bull Bresnahan help UCF?


    One of the less conspicuous story lines emanating from this week's USF-UCF contest may or may not evolve into one of the more significant.

    If the Knights possess any noticeable edge, it might be first-year defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan's insight into the Bulls personnel. Bresnahan spent the previous two years in the same job on Willie Taggart's staff before being dismissed last December....

    USF sophomore cornerback Deatrick Nichols (3) had two interceptions against Cincinnati, returning one for a touchdown.
  8. Full disclosure: My latest AP ballot


    Gonna cut you off at the pass, Bulls fans. No, you won't find USF on my ballot this week.

    Sure, I considered the Bulls, albeit briefly. While they're undeniably the hottest team in the American Athletic Conference today, they're still not among the nation's top 25 when considering their collective body of work.

    For all its recent dominance, USF still has four losses, and you'll find no four-loss team -- Power Five or otherwise -- on my ballot. The loss to Maryland is impossible to ignore, and the defeat against Memphis is gradually getting more unsightly as the Tigers keep regressing.

    Even so, I can lend the Bulls some latitude over the Memphis loss, but not Maryland. Had the Bulls beaten the Terps, they'd probably be on my ballot today....

  9. USF basketball falls to 0-4 with loss to Boston University


    TAMPA — In a season where the supply of silver linings is rapidly diminishing, USF had one consolation Saturday.

    It outscored its football team, by a point. Outscoring the opposition remains a far trickier endeavor.

    Victimized by Boston University's catch-and-shoot motion offense that produced 10 3-pointers, the Bulls (0-4) fell to the Terriers 78-66 before an announced Sun Dome crowd of 2,903. USF must defeat Albany on Tuesday to avoid matching the program's worst start, established by Bobby Paschal's 1987-88 club....

  10. AAC chief: Colleges, preps can co-exist on Fridays


    Call it one of those quirks of fate, a timely chance to share a significant Friday night plight with a key college figure.

    The same day the Tampa Bay Times published this Tom Jones column decrying the infringement of televised college football on a night (Friday) normally reserved for high schools, we had a chance to ask American Athletic Conference commissioner (and former network TV executive) Mike Aresco about it.

    His response: A generation ago, he might have believed Fridays should remain the sole domain of the high schools, but now he believes colleges and preps can co-exist -- to a degree.

    "Only a handful of games are played at the college level (on Fridays) and people that are loyal to their local teams will go to their local high school games...and that's the key," Aresco said prior to USF's contest -- on Friday night, no less -- against Cincinnati.

    "They've got their own fan bases, obviously. It does affect a few teams in a few markets on Friday night, but very few (college) teams do it more than once or twice."

    For non-Power Five conferences (such as the AAC) trying to establish an identity, nationally televised Friday contests have evolved into a gold mine of sorts. The AAC has had 15 games attract at least a million viewers this season compared to 11 all of last season, according to Aresco. Presumably, a handful of those have been Friday contests.

    "Thursdays have been taken over by the NFL and the only time a college program can get the kind of national attention, even more so than Saturdays (is on a Friday)," Aresco said.

    "First of all, there aren't that many of them being played (on a Friday). So, for the most part, you want people to watch the games and all, but I think people who are devoted to high school football will go to the games and it's never been easy. But it's like anything else, I think there's a place for both now on Fridays."...

  11. USF Bulls' rout keeps conference title hopes alive


    TAMPA — For all the uncovered receivers downfield, all the unanswered touchdowns, all the unmatched intensity, USF's 65-27 romp Friday night of Cincinnati likely won't go down as the Bulls' biggest laugher of the year.

    Willie Taggart and Co. have an even bigger one, straight from a hotel ballroom in Newport, R.I.

    The 2015 season hadn't dawned, yet reporters had forecast a fade to darkness for the Taggart era. At the American Athletic Conference's media day Aug. 4, the Bulls were picked to place fifth in the East division by a panel of media members, reflecting a similarly bleak outlook by assorted college preseason magazines already on newsstands....

    South Florida Bulls cornerback Deatrick Nichols (3) intercepts the ball early in the second quarter to score a touchdown at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa on Friday, November 20, 2015. OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times 

  12. Cincinnati-USF: Click here for coverage


    If you're like Willie Taggart, you're probably awake at this wee hour (post-annihilation adrenaline) re-living one of the most overwhelming Bulls victories ever.

    Here then, is a chance to re-live it through our prose and perspective.

    First, our game story from the Bulls' 65-27 rout of Cincinnati, nudging them one step closer to a division title. Additionally, Times correspondent Jeff Odom points out five things you might have missed (Anyone else see that textbook open-field tackle by Michael Hill?)...

  13. USF routs Cincinnati, stays in contention for AAC title


    TAMPA — Two autumns ago, a woefully undermanned USF team managed 26 points against Cincinnati without an offensive touchdown.

    Friday night, on the same field, the Bulls managed to double that figure against the Bearcats without blinking.

    And so continued the breakneck evolution of Willie Taggart's program, which in seven weeks has transformed the Bulls' American Athletic Conference title hopes from laughable to legitimate. Very legitimate....

    Cincinnati Bearcats running back Mike Boone (5) is tackled by South Florida Bulls D'Ernest Johnson (32) in the first quarter at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa on Friday, November 20, 2015.
  14. Gudmundsson at center of USF's success


    TAMPA — His first and last name span five syllables, one for every offensive line spot at which he has played or at least practiced at USF.

    Brynjar (brynn-YAR) Gudmundsson needs only one hand — heck, one finger — to count the number of people (a college professor) who have pronounced it correctly on the first attempt since his arrival in Tampa. To circumvent excessive name butchering, Bulls coaches and teammates refer to the fifth-year senior simply as "B.G."...

    Offensive lineman Brynjar Gudmundsson will make his 36th consecutive start for USF Friday against Cincinnati. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times]
  15. USF basketball Thursday games



    Men: USF vs. George Washington

    7, Sun Dome Records: USF 0-2, George Washington 2-0 Radio: 820-AM

    Women: No. 19 USF at No. 5 Baylor

    8, Waco, Texas Records: USF 2-0, Baylor 2-0 Radio: 1040-AM