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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

E-mail: jknight@tampabay.com

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  1. USF-East Carolina women's basketball, noon Sunday, Sun Dome

    College

    . Today

    USF women vs. East Carolina

    When/where: Noon; Sun Dome

    Records: USF 9-3, East Carolina 9-2

    TV/radio: ESPNU; 1010-AM

    Notable: The Bulls begin American Athletic Conference play buoyed by a solid RPI (37) and zthe prolific junior tandem of SG Courtney Williams (19.9 ppg, 8.3 rpg) and PF Alisia Jenkins (13.0 ppg, 11.8 rpg). They are the only Bulls averaging more than 30 minutes. … East Carolina enters with a three-game win streak and respectable RPI (82). … The Pirates feature eight players 6-1 or taller, led by 6-2 redshirt junior Jada Payne (18.6 ppg, 6.6 rpg)....

  2. N.C. State stops UCF in Bitcoin Bowl at Trop

    College

    ST. PETERSBURG — However North Carolina State's outnumbered partisans paid their admission to Tropicana Field — cash, credit, cryptocurrency — mattered little Friday.

    Jacoby Brissett and his backfield were mostly worth the price of it.

    Be it outside the pocket or out of the pistol formation, Brissett and the ball-carrying tandem of Shadrach Thornton and Matt Dayes left UCF's seasoned defense mostly stupefied. By the end of the Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl, the trio had helped N.C. State total 487 yards in a 34-27 victory before an announced Trop crowd of 26,675....

    N.C. State quarterback Jacoby Brissett, a Florida transfer, tries to find a receiver in the second quarter. He throws for 262 yards.
  3. N.C. State's Jarvis Byrd lives 'don't ever give up' motto

    College

    ST. PETERSBURG — Repeated viewing of Jim Valvano's immortal speech at the 1993 ESPY Awards is practically a North Carolina State pre­requisite. Incoming freshmen are reminded never to plagiarize, never park in a faculty space and don't give up, don't ever give up.

    "It's not just something you talk about," Wolfpack football coach Dave Doeren said. "It's something you live by when you're at N.C. State."...

    N.C. State’s Jarvis Byrd pops the ball loose from UNC running back Johnny White in a 2009 game in which Byrd suffered his first torn ACL.
  4. UCF breaks down memorable Hail Mary play

    College

    ORLANDO — A regular season that began in Dublin ended in delirium.

    Three weeks ago tonight, UCF was down to its final gasp at East Carolina when Knights quarterback Justin Holman and wideout Breshad Perriman decided to leave everyone else breathless. Holman's 51-yard Hail Mary touchdown pass to Perriman on the last play catapulted UCF to a 32-30 victory, stupefying a Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium audience of 41,259....

    East Carolina defensive back DaShaun Amos sits in shock as UCF players mill about after a last-second Hail Mary gives the Knights a share of the American Athletic Conference title.
  5. Coach Taggart: Expect faster USF offense next season

    College

    TAMPA — Seated in a leather chair before three local reporters in his second-floor office Tuesday, expectant father Willie Taggart announced that he and wife Taneshia's third child, due this summer, will be followed by another possible bundle of joy.

    A revamped offensive package.

    After totaling 33 offensive touchdowns the past two seasons in a power-based, West Coast attack, the Bulls plan to shake things up....

    Willie Taggart
  6. Taggart: Renovated offense 'will be fun'

    Blog

    Before embarking on a brief holiday break, USF coach Willie Taggart spent an hour Tuesday afternoon with three local reporters in his second-floor office in the Selmon Athletics Center. All the front-and-center issues -- from Taggart's newest hires to the offensive renovations to the pressure he faces entering Year Three -- were addressed. Here are the highlights.

    So what's your overview on the makeup of the new staff? (Ole Miss linebackers coach Tom Allen is the new defensive coordinator, while former Purdue coach Danny Hope is co-offensive coordinator with quarterbacks coach David Reaves)
    "Very excited about it. I think both (Allen and Hope) bring some energy, both of them are very enthusiastic. People feel that way around 'em, just their energy and passion for being a football coach. Both of them bring something different but good to our football team."

    How did the co-offensive coordinator concept come about, and how does it work?
    "One, you just look at our football team and we're trying to find ways to score points. ... I know we've been struggling running the football and that's something we felt like we could get better at. I know Coach Hope's a really good offensive line coach and good teacher. ... I thought David could run the pass game. I thought he did a good job of understanding the pass game, he had a good feel for the pass game and I thought we all could work together."

    How did Tom Allen get on your radar?
    "Being pretty good friends with (Ole Miss coach) Hugh Freeze from the Sun Belt (Conference) days. I got in touch with Hugh and...got a chance to bring Tom down here, and I'm very impressed with him. I got a chance to watch film and watch his linebackers play, and was impressed with those guys and how hard they play; they're disciplined. ... But more importantly, his passion and his love for the kids and understanding it's all about them. And he understands the bay area too, he's been here."

    So he'll recruit the bay area?
    "Yeah. Everybody's gonna recruit this area. All 10 coaches, and that's counting me, have a part in the bay area. We're gonna milk the bay area. Every part of the bay area, we're gonna milk it. Every single coach is gonna have a part of it."

    Is your offense gonna change? Are we gonna see an overhaul, a different style?
    "I think you'll see some things differently. I think you'll see more up-tempo and going faster. I think you'll see us spread out a little bit. You're gonna see a lot of different things about it, but not get too far away from what our guys understand and know what we do. I think a lot of it is
    just formation. Everybody's running the same plays, it's coaching 'em up and doing it better, executing. I think that's one thing we want to be able to do offensively, is just execute, execute, execute. I know that's something that we struggled to do consistently, and I think a big part of that is simplifying some things and just letting 'em play so they can do it when things get tough (so) they can do it routinely."

    So are you gonna have some spread looks, or is this gonna be a spread offense?
    "We're gonna have a little bit of everything. It will be fun, I'll say that. It'll be fun and we're gonna put our kids in position to make plays, let 'em play football, let 'em go fast."

    You have a run-game coordinator, a pass-game coordinator, a play-caller and a play clock. How will all that work on game day?
    "I call the plays, simple. ... Again, I think there will be times where I'm gonna need a suggestion, then, 'Hey David, give me a pass play.' Or David might say, 'Coach, what do you think about this?' ... I'll call the plays and I'll get suggestions. ... We'll work really well together throughout the week to where we know exactly what we're gonna do as an offense."

    Is (former Manatee High coach) Joe Kinnan gonna have a role in your program?
    "Right now I'm trying to find a defensive backs coach, then I'm gonna work from there. ..."

    Is he on the radar?
    "Right now the only thing on the radar is DBs. If he can coach the DBs he can be on the radar."

    After the last game, (athletic director) Mark Harlan said it was his job to do everything he could to help you get what you needed to build a winning program. What was your takeaway as you evaluated the season and looked ahead?
    "First of all, I think we have ourselves one hell of an athletic director. He calls it like he sees it and is honest in what he sees and you can appreciate that. But he also wants to know what he can do to help. I will say he's done everything I've asked for and he's been very helpful. ... I think he's doing a great job. We talked about a lot of different things in where we can go and where we're at and where we need to go. I think we're all on the same page."

    You're on your third offensive coordinator in three years, and second defensive coordinator in three years. Are you concerned from a stability standpoint of what some of these older guys have had to withstand here?
    "No, I'm not. One thing I've learned, our guys know how to adjust. ... A big part of it is just having a big structure plan for them and making all of those guys accountable to working with that plan. Again, when everyone's bought all in, it will take care of itself. It's not rocket science."...

    Entering his third season, USF football coach Willie Taggart promises an offense with higher tempo and more spread-style looks.
  7. USF-Southeastern Louisiana basketball preview

    College

    .Today

    USF vs. Southeastern Louisiana

    When/where: 1, Sun Dome

    Radio: 1010-AM

    Records: USF 5-6, Southeastern Louisiana 3-9

    Notable: The Bulls try to snap a five-game skid against a potentially weary foe. The Lions will take the floor only 16 or so hours after losing 70-65 at UCF. … USF is shooting 22.7 percent (15-for-66) from long range during its skid. The Bulls had interior motives in Saturday's 75-62 loss to FSU, with guards Corey Allen Jr. (career-best 31 points) and Anthony Collins (13) trying to draw fouls on the Seminoles big men with consistent dribble penetration. … The Lions, who typically go only seven players deep, entered their two-game Florida swing struggling on 3-pointers (29.7 percent) and free throws (71.4). Junior G Zay Jackson (15.7 ppg, 4 rpg, 4 assists) leads the Lions....

  8. Jimmy Herget named AAC Preseason Pitcher of the Year

    Blog

    USF junior right-handed ace Jimmy Herget, a Jefferson High alumnus coming off consecutive sparkling seasons, has been named the American Athletic Conference Preseason Pitcher of the Year in a poll of the league's eight coaches.

    Herget and Bulls junior SS Kyle Teaf also made the 15-member preseason all-conference team. USF, which returns nearly its entire batting order and a pitching staff that accounted for 410 of last year's 510 innings, is ranked fifth in the preseason poll....

    USF junior right-hander Jimmy Herget has been named the American Athletic Conference's Preseason Pitcher of the Year.
  9. Women's hoops: Jenkins makes Lions see 20-20

    Blog

    A year after hobbling into American Athletic Conference play, USF's women (9-3) have traded in that limp for a swagger.

    They can thank resident rebounding machine Alisia Jenkins for much of it.

    The Bulls concluded non-conference play Sunday afternoon with a 90-87 overtime win at Penn State, highlighted by Jenkins' sparkling effort both in the clutch and paint.

    Facing a Nittany Lions team featuring five players 6-foot-2 or taller, the 6-1 junior notched her eighth double-double of the season (23 points, 21 rebounds), becoming only the sixth USF player to record a 20-20 game and finishing four rebounds shy of Wanda Guyton's school single-game record.

    No USF player had collected at least 20 points and 20 rebounds in the same game since Stefanie Prescott pulled it off (20 points, 21 boards) against Division II Florida Southern on Feb. 13, 1990.

    "She was special tonight, relentless on the glass," said Bulls coach Jose Fernandez, whose club opens league play next Sunday at home against East Carolina. "Her effort and energy were remarkable."

    Jenkins put the Bulls ahead 77-75 when she tipped in a contested Courtney Williams missed layup with 19 seconds to play. Penn State scored seven seconds later, forcing the extra session.

    After seven overtime lead changes, Jenkins and Williams teamed for four free throws in the last 41 seconds to seal things. Williams, 1-for-10 in the first half, finished with 34 points and 11 rebounds.

    "Going 1-for-10 in the first half, then she goes for 34, I just don't  understand it but I'm glad she stayed positive and continued to stay with it," Fernandez said....

    USF junior Alisia Jenkins notched the sixth 20-20 game in program history Sunday, totaling 23 points and 21 rebounds in an overtime win at Penn State.
  10. USF-Penn State women's basketball, 2 p.m. Sunday

    College

    Today: USF women at Penn State

    When/where: 2; Bryce Jordan Center, State College, Pa.

    Records: USF 8-3, Penn State 3-7

    Radio: 1010-AM

    Notable: The Bulls conclude their mostly prosperous nonconference slate against a club that has won two of three after a six-game skid. … Despite missing starters Laura Ferreira (ankle) and Katelyn Weber (illness) on Wednesday night, USF still scored 31 of the first 34 in an 84-43 romp of Northern Colorado. Weber is expected to play today; Ferreira is probable. … Bulls senior and Boca Ciega alumnus Tamara Taylor scored 24 and sank six 3-pointers — both career bests — on Wednesday. Junior Alisia Jenkins collected her seventh double double of the year (18 points, 16 boards). … Nittany Lions 6-foot-2 sophomore Kaliyah Mitchell (9.0 ppg, 7.1 rpg) had her first career double double in last Sunday's 85-51 romp of Rider....

  11. USF adds ex-Purdue coach Danny Hope to staff

    Sports

    TAMPA — The reconfiguration of USF coach Willie Taggart's staff is nearly complete with Friday's announcement that former Purdue coach Danny Hope joined the Bulls as a co-offensive coordinator/line coach.

    Hope will oversee USF's run game while David Reaves, promoted from quarterbacks coach to the other co-coordinator role, will direct the passing game. Taggart, however, will resume all play-calling duties, a USF news release indicated....

    Danny Hope is USF’s new co-offensive coordinator/line coach.
  12. USF-FSU basketball, 2 p.m. Saturday

    College

    .Today

    USF vs. Florida State

    When/where: 2; BB&T Center, Sunrise

    TV/radio: Sun Sports; 1010-AM, 1040-AM

    Records: USF 5-5, FSU 5-5

    Notable: This is the opening game of the Orange Bowl Classic, which features Florida and Wake Forest in the second contest. … The Bulls enter on a four-game skid marked by lineup fluctuations (they've had a different starting five in each of their past four games) and woeful long-range shooting. During the losing streak, USF is 21-for-60 (21.7 percent) from 3-point range, including 0-for-9 in Thursday's 89-69 home loss to Seton Hall. Opponents are shooting 34-for-79 (43 percent) from 3-point range in the same stretch. … FSU, also struggling mightily (24.2 percent) from long range, recently lost top scorer Aaron Thomas (14.8 ppg), a 6-foot-5 junior guard declared ineligible by the school for undisclosed reasons. In his absence, 6-8 G Montay Brandon and 7-footer Kiel Turpin combined for 43 points in Wednesday's 93-77 win against North Florida....

  13. Danny Hope aboard as new USF staff takes shape

    Blog

    Barring an 11th-hour glitch, USF coach Willie Taggart could have his coaching staff formally replenished before Christmas.

    The makeup of Taggart's reconfigured staff really began taking shape Friday with the school's announcement that former Purdue coach Danny Hope has joined the Bulls staff as co-offensive coordinator/offensive line coach.

    Quarterbacks coach David Reaves has been promoted to the other co-coordinator role. While Reaves will oversee the Bulls passing game and Hope will coordinate the run game, Taggart will "resume all play-calling duties" next season, a USF news release said....

  14. Nine Bulls honored by Phil Steele

    Blog

    Bulls freshman RB Marlon Mack, P Mattias Ciabatti and KR Chris Dunkley lead a cavalcade of nine USF players selected to national college football analyst Phil Steele's All-American Athletic Conference team.

    Mack, Ciabatti and Dunkley -- the AAC leaders in rushing, punt average and kick-return average, respectively -- all were first-team picks. Mack and Ciabatti also were first-team selections on the coaches All-AAC squad.

    Senior TE Mike McFarland, who rallied from an early-season injury to finish second on the team with a career-best 27 catches, earned second-team honors with senior OL Quinterrius Eatmon. Employed at guard and tackle in 2014, Eatmon graduated with 46 career starts, second-most in USF history.

    Third-team honors went to school career receiving leader Andre Davis, senior C Austin Reiter (36 starts in last three seasons), sophomore OLB Nigel Harris (77 tackles, six forced fumbles) and senior PK Marvin Kloss (13-for-17 FGs, 23-for-23 PATs)....

    USF senior kick returner Chris Dunkley was among three Bulls earning first-team honors on Phil Steele's All-American Athletic Conference squad.
  15. Seton Hall routs USF Bulls by 20

    College

    TAMPA — Ten games into the Orlando Antigua era at USF, no one's suggesting the new-car smell has dissipated. It's just that lately it has been overcome by a familiar stench.

    Suddenly the Bulls are putrid again from long range.

    The team that struggled to buy a 3-pointer the past two seasons has only clangs for currency again. The funk continued Thursday night against Seton Hall, which connected on 11 treys — 11 more than the Bulls — in an 89-69 romp before a Sun Dome crowd of 3,330....