EAST LANSING, Mich. — It has been well documented that University of South Florida coach Willie Taggart wants his Bulls to become a great running team. There were questions whether senior RB Marcus Shaw could shoulder the load as USF’s primary ball-carrier.
Shaw’s answer: 145 yards last week against McNeese State, then Saturday’s performance, a career-high 23 carries for 94 yards in USF’s 21-6 loss against the Michigan State Spartans.
“I feel I did a pretty good job,’’ Shaw said. “I’d feel better if we had won. I like winning.’’
Shaw fell 6 yards short of becoming the seventh USF player to register consecutive 100-yard rushing games. The others: RB Dyral McMillan, QB Marquel Blackwell, RB Andre Hall, RB Mike Ford, QB B.J. Daniels and RB Lindsey Lamar.
Hall had four straight 100-yard games, then three straight during another span.
“Marcus is getting better each week,’’ Taggart said. “He’s a good running back. He has good vision, and he’s stronger than what you think.’’
Shaw had runs of 24 and 13 yards. He had a 29-yarder called back by a penalty.
“Marcus always runs with incredible effort,’’ USF senior QB Bobby Eveld said. “Some of the spins he makes, some of the moves he makes, are just unhuman.’’
Lattimore leads way
Bulls senior MLB DeDe Lattimore had a career-high 15 tackles, four short of USF’s single-game record (DB J.R. Reed, 2003) and the most by a USF player since 2009 (LB Kion Wilson, 18). Lattimore moved into eighth place all-time in USF career tackles with 263.
“I just wanted my teammates to come together and look at me as a leader and a captain,’’ Lattimore said.
“Last week, DeDe was disappointed and didn’t play as he was capable (of playing),’’ Taggart said. “We challenged DeDe to go out and be that leader. This football team needs leaders. I’m proud of him.’’
Taggart said he will evaluate USF’s punt-return unit this week. Sophomore Kenneth Durden had three returns for 20 yards (one was 19 yards), but he caught two of the punts at USF’s 2- and 8-yard lines.
“That was huge,’’ Taggart said. “Two weeks in a row, we allowed that to happen. You’ve got to be smart. You’ve got to make good decisions when you’re back there. You’ve got to have a reliable guy.’’
The game, originally scheduled for a noon kickoff, began after a 67-minute delay for rain and lightning. “We’re used to that; we get (lightning) all the time in Tampa,’’ Taggart said. Officials called for the evacuation of Spartan Stadium. At first, MSU’s student section wouldn’t budge, but they finally moved when Spartans men’s basketball coach Tom Izzo appeared on the field, took a microphone and promised to “sit right in the middle of you’’ once the conditions cleared and the game began. … Early in the game, USF utilized a scheme with five defensive linemen, having senior DE Tevin Mims in a stand-up role, primarily for a better matchup with Michigan State TE Michael Dennis (6-foot-7, 299 pounds). … USF opened its scoring with a second-quarter 49-yard field goal by junior PK Marvin Kloss, tied for the sixth-longest field goal in program history. … Junior LB Hans Louis and junior DT Todd Chandler each had their first career fumble recovery, while senior DE Julius Forte had his first career forced fumble. … Sophomore P Mattias Ciabatti had nine punts for a 40.1-yard average. The USF single-game record is 10 punts by Justin Brockhaus-Kann. … Celebrated sophomore DE Aaron Lynch has five tackles (and no sacks) in two games. He also jumped offsides on third-and-3, giving Michigan State a first down when DE Ryne Giddins had stopped the ball-carrier for no gain. … The Bulls host Florida Atlantic (0-2) on Saturday night. After a week off, USF will host the Miami Hurricanes, 21-16 winners against Florida, on Sept. 28 at Raymond James Stadium.