TAMPA – When Willie Taggart was hired as the University of South Florida’s head football coach, he talked about packing Raymond James Stadium.
Deep into Taggart’s first season, that hasn’t come remotely close to happening. There were plenty of available seats — the attendance was 14,795 — during Saturday night’s game between the Bulls and Memphis Tigers.
Taggart is now sounding a more realistic tone.
“We’re on our way,’’ Taggart said before the game. “We’re not there, and rightfully so. It’s not going to happen overnight. We understand we got to earn that. We can’t just ask and hope for people to show up. We’ve got to give them something to show up for. We understand that’s part of the process.
“I’ve said it plenty of times. The Bay area loves winners. You win ballgames, they’ll show up and support you. You lose and they don’t like it. … They want you to get it right. We’re going to work really hard to get it right. That’s our vision is to have that place packed every Saturday.’’
Actual attendance for other USF home games this season — McNeese State (22,609), Florida Atlantic (20,571), Miami (32,977), Cincinnati (15,919) and Louisville (21,365).
Like a Kloss
USF junior PK Marvin Kloss is human, after all. His school-record streak of 13 consecutive field goals ended during the first quarter when he came up inches wide and just short on a 49-yard attempt. In the second quarter, he was wide left on a 55-yard attempt, his longest try of the season.
Kloss, a Lou Groza Award semifinalist, came into the game 13-for-14 on total attempts and 7-for-8 from 40 yards and beyond.
Memphis came into game 0-for-25 in third-down situations that required 11 yards or more. So it seemed like a head-scratcher at the end of the half when USF declined a Memphis holding penalty, which would’ve set up third-and-21, perhaps anticipating a punt.
On fourth down from USF’s 39-yard line, Memphis freshman PK Jake Elliott lined up for a 56-yard field-goal attempt. After a USF timeout, Elliott’s attempt hit the crossbar, bounced straight up in the air and fell through for three points.
On Veterans and Military Appreciation Night, USF players wore white helmets that featured an American flag design in the “U’’ logo. The helmets also featured a “Got Your 6” insignia, which is a military term for “got your back.’’
Each player wore a patch from one of the five branches of American service. Not coincidentally, most of the USF receivers wore “Air Force’’ patches.
USF’s road game at UCF on Nov. 29 — Black Friday — was set for 8 p.m. on ESPN. ... Former USF All-American DE George Selvie, now with the Dallas Cowboys, watched from the Bulls sideline. … Bulls WR Andre Davis caught a pass in his 27th consecutive game, adding to his school record. … Bulls CB Kenneth Durden collected his first career interception on a tipped ball in the first quarter. … True freshman Hassan Childs had a 38-yard punt return. … The Bulls host the SMU Mustangs (4-5, 3-2) next Saturday night for USF’s final home game and Senior Night. SMU features QB Garrett Gilbert, who leads the nation in total offense. Gilbert has passed for 3,037 yards with 17 touchdowns and six interceptions.