White almost pulled in Tulsa

Coach Willie Taggart admitted in his weekly press conference that he contemplated pulling sophomore Mike White in the first half of USF’s comeback against Tulsa. ORACLE PHOTO/ADAM MATHIEU

The Bulls had a poor first-half showing against Tulsa, going down 27-7 in the second quarter. Sophomore quarterback Mike White was 7-of-12 for 61 yards and an interception that resulted in a Tulsa touchdown in the first half. This left coach Willie Taggart with a decision: stick with White or give junior Steven Bench a chance.

“When I told him I was thinking about it, he kind of looked at me and, I can’t use the words, but I liked that,” Taggart said. “I was impressed. If he would’ve put his head down and pouted, I probably wouldn’t have put him
back in.”

White wanted no part of being on the bench and responded by throwing for 211 yards and three touchdowns in the second half.

“(Taggart) was looking for that fire and that passion that I didn’t really have in the first half,” White said. “When your quarterback doesn’t have that, the offense can’t get going because they feed off the QB. Once I had passion, we all did, and played one heck of a second half.”

Next week, White will have his 13th start as a Bull, in Cincinnati: the city where his career began.

White said he received the first start and win of his football career in the opening game of his senior year against Trotwood-Madison throwing for just over 100 yards.

 

Mack and company making strides

 

Taggart has put an emphasis on establishing a strong run game and it is starting to
pay off.

“The (running backs) have shown you glimpses of what they can do,” Taggart said. “We’re still not running as much as I’d like, but when we have the production that we’re having, we’ll take that too.”

Freshman running back Marlon Mack leads the conference with 727 yards and is second in touchdowns, with eight. Though Mack leads the way, the Bulls have more capable backs that are all showing they can be counted on.

“Any one of the guys can come in the game and we don’t have to minimize our game plan,” Taggart said. “They’re different styles of runners, but they are competitive and love football and love contact.”

Freshman D’Ernest Johnson has seen the field in all seven games this season, accumulating 106 yards on 30 carries.

 

Davis opens up the offense

 

With the reemergence of senior receiver Andre Davis, defenses have to pick and choose where they want to send help. The steady rushing attack is making that decision hard and is allowing the Bulls’ offense to come to life.

“You can’t have it all,” Taggart said. “When you have guys that can go out and win the one on ones, that makes you pretty potent. When you want to double cover (Davis), it opens up room for other guys like Rodney Adams and our tight ends to make plays.”

Davis has come back strong from his sternum injury, which sidelined him for four games early in the season. He has posted back-to-back 100-yard games since returning, along with four touchdowns.

 

The audible

 

Early in the second half Saturday, the Bulls were lined up for a pass play on their own 46-yard-line, but White saw something and switched the play for the first time in his career.

“We saw some player mismatches with the play we originally had called, so, we changed it to a run play,” White said. “We run the ‘power’ fairly well and we decided to give it a chance and it worked.”

White said they have “kill” plays for every play called, but haven’t seen the opportunity to make the switch.

In this instance, the change allowed Mack to break through for a 54-yard score to swing the momentum of the game.

The Bulls look to build off the biggest comeback win in school history and keep the momentum rolling into their next conference game against Cincinnati on Friday at 7 p.m.

 

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