It’s been four days since USF suffered a 28-10 loss to FAU, dropping to 0-3 before an in-state battle with No. 16 Miami on Sept. 28, but coach Willie Taggart is aiming to keep things relaxed within the team.
“I want us to be positive,” Taggart said. “I don’t want us to talk about anything negative. We do have some good things going on. We can’t ignore those things because we’re 0-3. We have to build off those things.”
Taggart said those things include USF’s ranking of 23rd in the country in total defense and senior running back Marcus Shaw ranking sixth in the country for rushing.
But Taggart said the team hasn’t kept a positive attitude so far, at least during games.
“We have to have the right mindset,” he said. “Rather than worrying about not making mistakes or not losing the game, let’s say ‘Go out and win this ball game and let’s go make this play.’ I want our guys to feel that way, but I don’t think we’ve taken that approach into a game.”
Taggart, junior receiver Andre Davis and sophomore quarterback Steven Bench all said the bye week is going to be important for the team in several ways.
Mostly, Taggart said, an extra week allows the team to regroup and the coaching staff to find what the team is doing well or not doing well.
The most pressing issue among Bulls fans is the quarterback position, which has seen three different players, redshirt sophomore Matt Floyd, senior Bobby Eveld and Bench, in three games.
Davis, who has nine catches for 116 yards in three games, said it’s always hard adjusting to a new quarterback, but said he thinks Taggart has settled on one and added that it takes extra repetitions after practice to get accustomed to a new passer.
While the second highest catch total among wide receivers is four, Davis said he’s seen quite a bit of double coverage this season and it’s something he’s seen throughout his career.
“It happens,” Davis said. “But when I do get double coverage, other people have to make up for it and make plays.”
Taggart said he’s looking for consistency in general.
Consistency at quarterback, he said, would help a lot of the team’s woes, and with the extra time to prepare and evaluate, the team wants to solidify the quarterback situation.
As Taggart spoke, Bench was seen running the first-team offense in the Bulls’ walk-thru practice, but Taggart still wouldn’t publicly commit to Bench as his quarterback.
Bench said the bye week comes at a good time and allows him to gain more familiarity with his teammates, the playbook and the game film of Miami.
“Having fun and being loose is going to come with the comfort level we have (in our system),” Bench said. “So working after practice and having good repetitions in practice is going to go a long way with that.”
As for the learning curve he’s experienced since arriving in May, Bench said his goal is to get better each day while studying the playbook and watching film.
He also doesn’t try to model his game after anyone else.
“I model it after Steven Bench,” he said. “I don’t try to be like Robert Griffin III or Peyton Manning, I just try to play my game.”
It remains to be seen if Bench will get to ‘play his game’ Sept. 28 against Miami, or if Taggart will pick someone else.