“Obviously the season didn’t end how we wanted it to,” USF offensive coordinator Walt Wells said.
Having a 2-9 record heading into the final game of the season at Rutgers (5-6) on Saturday, with no offensive touchdowns in those wins, is not how Wells or coach Willie Taggart envisioned the season to go.
The opportunity at a bowl game, the chances to win the American Athletic Conference (AAC) in its inaugural year and the rivalry game against a ranked UCF team have all passed the Bulls now – each goal slipping through their grasps.
But a lack of motivation heading into the potentially subfreezing temperatures in New Jersey, Wells said, would be nothing short of shocking.
“I ain’t worried about cold. If you’re playing football, you’re hot-blooded,” Wells said. “I don’t think motivation is a problem. You get the last win of the year – you get to go into the offseason knowing the last time you were out there you won. That’s great motivation.”
For some, the motivation is much more than a win. For the group of 17 listed seniors at USF, it’s the last chance to live by what Taggart has been preaching all season and “do something.”
“For seniors, it’s motivation enough,” senior fullback Ryan Eppes said. “For the team, you come into this game like any other game. The motivation is always there and we’re ready to go.”
After being redshirted in 2009 and seeing little to no action in his first three years to now becoming a starter, Eppes said, as the cliche goes, it feels like just yesterday when he was a freshman.
“It went by really fast,” he said.
Wells also said sending the seniors off on the right note is a priority – that and ending the season on the right note.
Wells admitted pride may play a small part in Saturday’s game as well, with Rutgers leaving the AAC and entering the Big Ten Conference, but pride isn’t the main focus.
“Most important thing is a win because everyone can smile after that and over the rest of winter,” Wells said.
But even with Rutgers being a below .500 team, a win over the Scarlet Knights has proven to be tough in the past.
The last time USF won against Rutgers was at home in the 2010-11 season by one point. Since then, Rutgers has won two straight games, by three and 10 points respectively. The last time USF won at Rutgers was in 2005.
The Bulls are set to kick off for the last time this season at 7:30 p.m. in New Brunswick with a low 25 degrees. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2.