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A year later, Knights still remember USF’s ‘disrespect’

In a game that needs no additional motivation, UCF's players have some in their back pocket, courtesy of Willie Taggart.

As UCF coach Scott Frost bluntly noted Monday, he needs no "gimmicks or grudges" to motivate his team for Friday's colossal showdown with USF.

But having a grudge in your back pocket doesn't hurt.

Frost and his staff had words with then-Bulls coach Willie Taggart on the field after last season's 48-31 USF victory. UCF had turned the ball over on downs at its own 8-yard line with one timeout and 1:44 remaining, but the Bulls attempted four consecutive runs, the last of which was a 1-yard touchdown by D'Ernest Johnson.

"They said, 'We'll remember this,'" Taggart said immediately after the game. "I told 'em, 'We'll remember this too.' … That's why we went for it, to make it a nice rivalry."

Sure enough, the Knights players have a clear recollection. But their reactions to it differed Monday when reporters brought it up.

"It's disrespect," senior OL (and Armwood High alumnus) Aaron Evans said.

"There's a sportsmanship aspect of the game, and there's just certain things you don't do. And if there's a mutual respect there, there's no need to drive it into the ground like that.

"But they did, so we'll remember it and we'll take that to heart as we practice and prepare this week, and we'll remember that when we come into the game this week."

By contrast, senior DT Jamiyus Pittman said his team might also have tried to score if the roles were reversed.

"They were just playing, trying to finish the game strong, I guess. Nothing that we wouldn't do," he said. "Of course they could've (taken) a knee and ended the game, but if it's a battle on I-4 like we say it is, why not?"

OLB Shaquem Griffin also downplayed the tacked-on TD…to a degree.

"We left it in the past," he said, "and they've got to see us in the future."