TAMPA — The South Florida Bulls arrived in style before Saturday’s game against McNeese State at Raymond James Stadium.
Led by first-year head coach Willie Taggart, adorned in a three-piece suit, USF coaches and players participated in the first “Bulls Stampede” south of the stadium.
Exiting their buses, the players wore green USF sweater vests, gold ties, white dress shirts and khaki pants. The running backs, including Marcus Shaw, were carrying footballs, presumably to emphasize around-the-clock ball security.
The USF contingent entered through a tunnel of band members, cheerleaders, Sun Dolls and fans. Taggart, who was hired last December from Western Kentucky University, said he hoped the Bulls Stampede would become an anticipated tradition before each home game.
Squirrel runs free
Shaw, a senior running back who goes by “Squirrel” due to his 5-foot-9 frame and agility, played the best game of his career. He needed only one touch to score his first touchdown of the season, breaking a tackle at the line of scrimmage and racing down the left sideline 80 yards to give the Bulls an early 7-0 lead.
That play is USF’s second-longest from scrimmage in program history. It was Shaw’s longest career run and, by itself, set a career high for yardage in a game, topping the 77 yards he recorded in 2010 against Stony Brook.
Through three quarters, Shaw had 142 yards on 11 carries, both career-highs.
He was also the team’s leading receiver through three quarters, catching five passes for 47 yards, two more career highs.
McNeese State set a record for most points by a visiting team against USF, scoring its 50th point at the 12:59 mark of the fourth quarter. Rutgers set the previous high in a 49-16 win over USF in 2008.
The Bulls also opened their 2006 season against McNeese State, beating the Cowboys 41-10 in QB Matt Grothe’s debut.
USF paid McNeese State $400,000 for Saturday’s game.
USF gave up a safety in the first quarter after David Burdetsky snapped the ball over P Mattias Ciabatti’s head and into the USF end zone. Ciabatti kicked the ball out of the back of the end zone, yielding USF’s first safety since 2009. … True freshman DB Johnny Ward picked off a Cody Stroud pass in the first quarter. USF had two interceptions all of last season. … Boos rained down for the first time after McNeese State took a 23-7 lead late in the second quarter. There was plenty more booing at halftime, after Matt Floyd threw his two interceptions and after the game. … DT Todd Chandler had a first-half sack, equaling his career best. … Senior FB Ryan Eppes (Largo) recorded his first stats as a Bull. He bounced around as a reserve quarterback and linebacker, playing in just three games in his career, before being moved to fullback and earning a spot as a starter this year. He caught two passes for 10 yards through three quarters. … Heralded DE Aaron Lynch made his USF debut, but did not record a sack. He earned freshman All-America honors as a freshman at Notre Dame in 2011 and sat out at USF last year after transferring. … Former walk-on CB Brandon Salinas, making his first start, had four unassisted tackles through three quarters, a career-high. … OLB Nigel Harris, a true freshman from Hillsborough High, had a tackle in his first college game. … K Marvin Kloss missed his first career FG attempt, pushing a 42-yarder wide left.
Joey Johnson, Michael Manganello