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Football report: Carden comes in with momentum

Joey Knight, Times Staff Writer

Monday, October 6, 2014 1:02pm

One of the nation's Heisman Trophy dark horses will ride into Raymond James Stadium as the reigning American Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Week.

East Carolina senior QB Shane "Cap'n" Carden earned the honor after his third consecutive 400-yard passing effort (and four first-half TDs) in Saturday's 45-24 win against SMU. Carden and Co. will bring yet another spread-style attack to RayJay, this one averaging 395.6 passing yards (fourth nationally), 581.4 total yards (fourth) and 43.6 points (ninth).

Against its three previous pure-spread opponents, the Bulls surrendered an average of 283 passing yards, 453.3 total yards and 32.3 points. Their best effort so far against a spread: allowing 317 total yards and 17 points in a 24-17 loss to Maryland (one Terrapins TD came on a blocked punt return).

"We did well at running to the football and gang tackling (against the Terps)," Bulls coach Willie Taggart said. "We have to do a great job of getting off of blocks and running to the football and not asking one guy to make the tackle. ... And being able to line up and get ready, especially for up-tempo teams like East Carolina."

HIGH NOON, THE SEQUEL: The league announced Monday USF's Oct. 18 game at Tulsa will kick off at noon (11 a.m. Central), marking the second time in three games the Bulls have a breakfast-hour local start. The contest will be broadcast on ESPNU or ESPNNews.

ODDS AND ENDS: Three days after USF announced former St. Petersburg Catholic four-star OL Reilly Gibbons was transferring from Stanford, the Bulls got a commitment from 6-foot-6, 285-pound Sebastian River OT Marcus Norman, according to Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers. Norman is deemed a three-star prospect by 247Sports. ... USF has announced former Bulls CB Mike Jenkins, currently on injured reserve with the Buccaneers, will be grand marshal of Friday's 7 p.m. on-campus homecoming parade. ... Taggart said he visited six or seven high schools and caught a couple of games last Thursday and Friday, while the Bulls were idle. ... The Bulls still rank fifth nationally in fumbles recovered (eight).

AUDIBLE: "You look at what Ole Miss did against Alabama and the same with Mississippi State with Texas A&M. It was big for their programs, and then you've got to play next week. But I think any win would be good for us, and then whenever you can win against a ranked opponent, that's always great." -- Taggart, when asked about the effect of a win against 22nd-ranked ECU on the Bulls program. USF has dropped its last five against ranked foes

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