As USF kicked off Homecoming week on Monday, the “Willie Taggart Radio Show” on 98.7-FM The Fan, usually broadcasted off campus, was among the list of activities on campus.
Taggart set up shop with announcers Jim Louk and Mark Robinson at Beef ‘O’ Brady’s in the Marshall Student Center for a special Homecoming edition of the show, and discussed several topics, highlighted by this weekend’s matchup with No. 20 Louisville and USF’s recent recruiting efforts.
Against a Cardinals team that scores 40 points a game, Taggart said USF needs to capitalize on opportunities in the red zone, something he knew the team needed to do when he took over as coach, because, “we don’t have the personnel necessary for what we’re doing (offensively).”
USF is 120th in the country at 16.2 points per game. In the last two games, USF hasn’t scored an offensive touchdown, but escaped with wins in each game.
While Taggart said he’s excited the players are starting to believe in themselves, along with more consistent play-making recently, he said he needs them to be at their best this week.
Leading that offensive group is senior quarterback Bobby Eveld, who will start against Louisville on Saturday after going 2-0 in the last two games. Taggart said none of USF’s quarterbacks have a completion percentage up to the level he wants, but “Eveld has been taking care of the football.”
Taggart said part of improving that percentage, as he has said every week, requires help from the rest of the offense. One emerging player Taggart may continue to look toward is junior tight end Mike McFarland, who along with field goal blocks in each of the past two games has caught five passes for 69 yards.
Taggart said it’s great to see things turn around for McFarland, who has been dealing with family matters for several years.
“He didn’t always have a smile on around our office,” he said. “But now he’s making some plays, things are happening for him. He’s smiling more. That’s awesome to see.”
Now, after a win over former colleague and friend T.J. Weist and UConn, Taggart leads the Bulls into another game against a coaching friend.
Louisville coach Charlie Strong and Taggart know each other well, and Taggart said it’s been fun to see Louisville’s quick rise to prominence under Strong’s leadership. Taggart said USF is trying to rise to Louisville’s level, and Saturday’s game is a great challenge the Bulls are looking forward to.
With USF’s bye week, Taggart was finally able to get out on the road and help recruit. He said the coaching staff is focusing on “keeping Florida kids here in Florida,” and about 90 percent of recruiting efforts are dedicated to Florida high school players.
Each assistant coach has an area in Florida they have to know inside and out, he said. Outside of Florida, the coaches each have an area of the country to focus on. Taggart said they’re not just recruiting players; they’re also recruiting the players’ coaches and parents.
Taggart said USF is currently in an evaluation period, where coaches get academic information and watch practice but cannot talk to high school players. Instead, the USF staff meets with coaches and school principles to get a feel for the student-athlete’s background.
The Bulls look to catch the eyes of more potential recruits Saturday with their chance to upset the heavily favored Louisville Cardinals.