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Tuesday, Jun 19, 2018
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Bulls football notes: Taggart looks for playmakers

TAMPA – The University of South Florida’s game against the Miami Hurricanes was assigned a noon kickoff for Sept. 28 at Raymond James Stadium. It will be televised by ABC, ESPN or ESPNU.

Now the bigger question: After home losses against McNeese State and Florida Atlantic, how can USF (0-3) contend with the No. 16-ranked Hurricanes? Miami (2-0) hosts Savannah State on Saturday.

Bulls coach Willie Taggart is using USF’s bye week to examine his offense, which is ranked 120th among the 123 Football Bowl Subdivision teams.

He hasn’t named a starting quarterback for UM, although logic would indicate a shift to sophomore Steven Bench, a transfer from Penn State, who was eight of 22 for 134 yards in relief of senior Bobby Eveld against FAU. Sophomore Matt Floyd hasn’t played since starting the opener, then getting benched in the third quarter.

“We’ve seen each one of these guys in game action and each one has done different things for us,’’ Taggart said. “We’ll see which one is the best one for us and prepare him to be the guy to help us win some ballgames.’’

Taggart said his biggest priority is identifying some playmakers in the passing game. He’s satisfied with the rushing approach. Senior RB Marcus Shaw, 11th nationally in FBS rushing, was named to the American Athletic Conference honor roll after gaining a career-high 159 yards against FAU. Finding consistent receivers, though? A different matter.

“I told our guys this week we’re looking for playmakers,’’ said Taggart, who added he will hold some scrimmages this week. “If they’re out there, come see me. We’re going to put you in position to see if you can make some plays for us. We’re trying to find every which way we can to get some offense, especially from the passing-game standpoint.

“We’re going to do a great job of self-scouting ourselves — offensively, defensively and special teams. We’re going to try to get better at some of the things we’re doing well and the things we’re not doing well, we’ll figure out if it’s worth continuing to do them or get rid of it.’’

FRESHMAN MAKES MARK: Taggart expects freshman LB Nigel Harris (Hillsborough High) to continue with a significant role. Harris, who started in place of junior Reshard Cliett (shoulder), led USF with 12 tackles against FAU.

“Nigel’s going to play the rest of this year,’’ Taggart said. “Somewhere on this football team, he’s going to play. He’s too good of a player, too good of an athlete, not to be on the football field.’’

Taggart expects all players to be available for UM, including Cliett and senior SS JaQuez Jenkins, who suffered a leg injury against FAU and was on crutches during the second half.

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