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Momentum builds as USF picks up pace


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Martin Fennelly Column:

http://www.tbo.com/list/sports-columns-mfennelly/momentum-builds-as-usf-picks-up-pace-20151028/

 
 

Momentum builds as USF picks up pace

At 4-3. Coach Willie Taggart and the Bulls have surfaced in some bowl talk of late. ANDY JONES/STAFF
At 4-3. Coach Willie Taggart and the Bulls have surfaced in some bowl talk of late. ANDY JONES/STAFF
 
Published: October 28, 2015   |   Updated: October 28, 2015 at 06:39 AM

 

TAMPA — Win, win, win.

Forget the Bucs. The USF Bulls are riding a three-game winning streak for the first time since the start of the 2011 season. Willie Taggart and his young team have found a little breathing room, at least for now.

“You’ve got people patting you on the back,” USF senior offensive lineman Thor Jozwiak said. “And they’re excited again about this football team.”

He had me at Thor.

Yes, they’re only 4-3, small potatoes next to some AAC counterparts, unbeaten and nationally ranked Houston, Memphis and Temple. And it could end Saturday at Navy. One break for the Bulls: The game will be played on land.

Then again, Navy averages 300 yards on the ground per game.

But USF has crept above .500. The death of former USF player Elkino Watson is remembered every day. But the winning has tempered the fallout after USF player arrests, suspensions and bullet marks on a dormitory. Only there was another arrest last weekend: freshman receiver Deangelo Antoine, charged with possession of a controlled substance. Lovely. Better get that part dialed in, Willie.

But, on the field, at least, it’s going better.

Meet the Sunshine State’s longest current win streak, FBS or NFL.

USF has cracked the Big Three, if you ask me. Florida has its big game with Georgia, SEC East all but on the line. Florida State will eventually regain consciousness from the stunning Kick Six at Georgia Tech. Then there are the Bulls.

Miami and UCF? The Hurricanes lost 58-0 to Clemson, the worst defeat in school history, to get coach Al Golden fired. UCF fell to 0-8 and coach George O’Leary fell into retirement. The only drama left, at least for fans in Tampa, is whether former Bucs coach Greg Schiano gets hired at Miami and resets thermostats and whether UCF lets Jim Leavitt get his hands on another college head coaching job, among other things.

Meanwhile, back at the three-game winning streak ...

“Coach T just put an emphasis on believing every day,” said sophomore safety Tajee Fullwood, who is sixth in the FBS with a 16.6 average on punt returns. “This is where we want to be right now.”

Same goes for the 6-4, 318-pound Jozwiak, who tops it off with a bushy Mohawk, overgrown beard and the gift of gab, as if he’s going straight into broadcasting or pro wrestling, which he wouldn’t mind, except for the constant travel in pro wrestling, since he’s getting married. At least he wouldn’t need to change his first name in wrestling. Just hand him a hammer. “It would be a pretty good gimmick, I think,” Thor said.

There’s no gimmick to USF’s recent success. Taggart has played to the talent, changing offensive and defensive schemes. There’s sophomore runner Marlon Mack, who is averaging 114 yards per game. There’s sophomore quarterback Quinton Flowers, who set school and conference rushing records for quarterbacks with 201 yards last week against SMU. And there’s senior safety Jamie Byrd, the team’s freelancer at its new “Husky” position, who leads the Bulls in tackles for loss and sacks and maybe in punishment dished out.

“He’ll rattle the fillings in your mouth when he hits you,” Taggart said.

But Saturday brings the possibility of a drilling. Navy, 5-1, loves that triple option, methodical and precise and navigated by senior quarterback Keenan Reynolds, who is just three TDs from breaking the NCAA record of 77 rushing scores.

I still think it’s a tough road for USF to get six wins and a bowl, probably the one all the way down in St. Petersburg. They could be 4-5 after Navy and a trip to East Carolina. But that we’re even discussing the possibility of six wins, well, it’s new ground for the Taggart-coached Bulls.

“There’s a feeling around campus, there’s a feeling around the locker room, there’s a feeling all around, that we haven’t experienced for a long time,” Thor said. “For me, right now, living in this moment, is the best time that I’ve had here at USF.”

Beats what preceded it.

Edited by Ricky the Bull
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It's Fennelly.  The less hits the better.

Although i think every time he pays enough attention to dumps on us we start winning.

And this is why he's an insufferable ****head .....

 

The only drama left, at least for fans in Tampa, is whether former Bucs coach Greg Schiano gets hired at Miami and resets thermostats and whether UCF lets Jim Leavitt get his hands on another college head coaching job, among other things.

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And this is why he's an insufferable ****head .....

 

The only drama left, at least for fans in Tampa, is whether former Bucs coach Greg Schiano gets hired at Miami and resets thermostats and whether UCF lets Jim Leavitt get his hands on another college head coaching job, among other things.

There are bigger names they can hire.  That would bring a lot of sizzle to the rivalry though :P

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