TAMPA — The University of South Florida's season of football struggles took another downturn with Saturday night's 23-10 home loss against the Memphis Tigers. It was a third straight defeat for USF (2-7, 2-4 American Athletic Conference), which failed to capitalized on an open date and 16 days of preparation.
Although barely avoiding a fifth straight game this season without an offensive touchdown, USF first-year coach Willie Taggart defended his philosophy and said things will get better as he looked to Saturday night's home game against the SMU Mustangs (4-5, 3-2).
“It has worked everywhere I've been,'' said Taggart, referring to his run-first approach during Monday's AAC teleconference. “What you're seeing (now) with us is trying to operate with kids recruited for something else. Those kids will be better at it as we continue to move it forward.
“More than anything, it has been (poor) execution. We're not a strong team mentally. When things get tough, we panic and press and make bad mistakes. If we could start fast and give our guys some early confidence, we'd be a better football team.''
Taggart also placed blame on himself and the USF coaching staff.
“I told our coaches, 'If we're going to get better as a football team, it's going to be because of coaching. It's not like we have any new players coming in right now in the next three ballgames,'' Taggart said. “We've got to do a better job of coaching them up, then our players have to do a better job of making those plays and believing.
“A lot of it is being new with the system and not having the personnel (that ideally fits the offense). At the end of the day, it's all about results and we've got to do a better job of making it happen. A lot of the things that are going on with us, we do it to ourselves and those are things that can be corrected. But we've got to correct them.''
KLOSS UPDATE: Junior PK Marvin Kloss, a Lou Groza Award semifinalist who had made a school-record 13 consecutive field goals, missed his first two attempts (49 and 55 yards) against Memphis.
“He was disappointed because he wanted to do his part and continue to have the success he was having,'' Taggart said. “We've got to do a better job of putting Marvin in a better position. Eventually, he's going to miss one of those 50-yard field goals. A lot of it had to do with the snap, so it goes both ways. It's a team game. We need everything to go right and it didn't go right.''