USF Bully Pulpit

By on December 4, 2015


(Travis Failey / RSEN)

Smile Willie! (Travis Failey / RSEN)

USF Bulls coach Willie Taggart has a lot to be thankful for this holiday season.

Left for dead before the beginning of the season (the Bulls were picked to finish last in the American Athletic Conference East Division), all but fired a quarter of the way thru the season, Willie Taggart might as well be a cat with all the lives he has used.

In what could be considered the work of a miracle worker, Taggart has managed to turn a laughing stock of a team into a team that is one of the most respected, not only locally but nationally. The Bulls will be playing in their first bowl game in five years.

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Going into the Syracuse game, the Bulls had lost three games in-a-row, including a heart-breaking loss to Memphis. With rumors of Taggart being fired if the Bulls did not beat the Orange, Taggart threw caution to the wind. “I told our guys, we’re not going to leave anything on the play call sheet. I’m going to let it rip, and I want y’all to let it rip,” Taggart said after the Bulls smashed Syracuse 45-24.

That win would be the beginning of what could only be described as one of the best mid-season turnarounds in college football history. The Bulls would finish the season 8-4 (school record six conference wins), winning their last seven-of-eight games, including a beat down of eventual American Athletic Conference East Division champion Temple. They would average 37.9 ppg over the final eight games, averaging 51 ppg the final three games, finishing sixth in the conference at 33.5 ppg.

The Bulls now await to find out what bowl game they will play in and who their opponent will be, but

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can take solace in the fact that the national media and conference coaches are paying attention. Not only did they receive nine votes in the latest AP Poll, but a record eight Bulls were selected to the AAC first or second all-conference team, including AAC leading rusher Marlon Mack (115.7 ypg).

Willie Taggart knew it would take a while when he signed on to rebuild the Bulls, but his patience is starting to pay off. The Bulls finished the season 11th in nation at 242.9 rush ypg and are 239 yards away from the school single season record of 5,383 total yards. The Bulls defense led the AAC in scoring defense allowing 19.6 ppg while finishing the season ranked in the top 25 in interceptions, sacks and scoring defense.

If the last eight games are an indication of the future for the Bulls, then the future is bright!

(Travis Failey / RSEN)

(Travis Failey / RSEN)

American Athletic Conference you have been warned!

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