After an 11-point loss to No. 19 East Carolina, coach Willie Taggart is taking a “new season” approach to the remaining six games.
The Bulls remaining games are all against AAC opponents.
“Everything that happened before is irrelevant right now,” Taggart said. “These next six weeks are really going to define who we are as a football team.”
Finishing games strongly has been a struggle for the Bulls. USF has led or tied at the half in five out of six games this season, but has only won two.
“We can’t have the mental mistakes that we had last game,” said sophomore quarterback Mike White. “Those are the things we have to cut out.”
White and Taggart have stressed the idea of mental fatigue, which they said prevented the Bulls from winning against East Carolina.
Taggart said this mental fatigue can cause anything from dropped balls to penalties, which were frequent against ECU. Taggart counted five dropped passes, as well as multiple holding penalties in the second half.
“Our guys have to control their mental fatigue and not let that affect their execution,” Taggart said.
After being held out of Saturday’s game against ECU, sophomore linebacker Nigel Harris is expected to be back on the field this week, Taggart said.
Senior linebacker Reshard Cliett and senior corner back Chris Dunkley are both day-to-day, nursing shoulder injuries sustained in Saturday’s game.
Coach Antigua pushes tempo
First-year coach Orlando Antigua joined the Bulls in the spring after spending time under Kentucky coach John Calipari, and is bringing the Wildcats’ up-tempo offense with him.
“(We’ve been) running four to five times a week and running intensely,” sophomore forward Chris Perry said. “We couldn’t even breathe some days, but we had to keep pushing.”
Antigua said he wants to be able to run the fast break as much as possible in the upcoming season and feels he has the depth to accomplish that.
“That’s my type of pace and the team’s type of pace,” senior Corey Allen Jr. said. “We want to run and we’re excited to run at that pace.”
New team, new system
Throughout the offseason, the basketball team has seen an essentially brand new team, with only three players remaining who saw action in a Division 1 game last season.
With new players, along with a new system, there is a transition period for the team to be able to compete at a high level.
“It’s something completely new,” Antigua said. “If I was to teach you Chinese right now, you’d have no clue … but (the team) is buying into (the system).”
Perry said the team is adjusting well to the new teammates.
“It wasn’t that hard,” Perry said. “The people who stayed – we had such good chemistry – so when the new guys came in, we just brought it all together.”
Perry’s weight loss
Perry said he weighed in at about 262 pounds toward the end of last season. He is down to 242 and noticing the benefits.
“Defensively, I feel more mobile. I can move and block shots a lot better,” he said. “I felt grounded last year and couldn’t get off the ground much. I feel like I can get up now.”
Perry said his diet didn’t change too much. He started eating more chicken salad sandwiches and cutting back on portion size.