USF loses 53-21 in first game of season to McNeese State

After USF’s first play on offense, in coach Willie Taggart’s debut for the Bulls, Marcus Shaw’s 80-yard touchdown run had fans, and even reporters in the press box saying “wow.”

But the end of the game, though “wow” was still being said, it was for a different reason. The Bulls has just lost in their season opener at home Saturday to FCS McNeese State in a 53-21 blowout.

While the score may have fans venting via social media, it had Taggart looking teary-eyed as he walked into the post game press conference – apologizing to “Bulls nation” for what he called a “piss poor effort”

Shaw’s touchdown, which tied for an all-time record for longest run, had everyone on their feet early in the game as the Bulls went up 7-0.

But the excitement was short lived after the downward spiral for USF began.

While the first quarter ended 7-2, with USF in the lead, by halftime, USF was trailing the Cowboys, 33-7.

USF didn’t find the end zone again until four minutes into the third quarter.

Trouble started on USF’s first punt attempt, when the ball was snapped way over the head of punter Mattias Ciabatti into the back of the end zone for a safety – something the Bulls haven’t allowed to happen since 2009.

The Cowboys saw the red zone six times total, scoring five, showed that USF’s defense, which allowed 424 yards total, didn’t have an answer.

Seeing the red zone once were the Bulls, though scoring on that opportunity, showed USF couldn’t get things right.

Among of USF’s woes, there were some bright spots for the Bulls, few, but some.

USF cornerback Johnny Ward snagging an interception off a tipped ball in the first quarter was certainly one as the Bulls had two picks total all last season. Shaw proved to be a workhorse, averaging 12 yards per carry on 12 carry for 147 yards. The senior running back also caught five passes, as the favorite of quarterback Matt Floyd, for 47 yards.

Then there was USF senior Bobby Eveld – the person who seemingly lost the job at quarterback to Floyd, until the second half that is.

After Floyd threw his second pick to start off the third quarter, Eveld stepped in.

What was looking to be a blowout loss turned into an audition for Eveld who finished his night, 10-for-20 with 137 yards through the air while tossing a couple touchdowns – one in the third quarter to Stephen Bravo-Brown and one in the fourth to Andre Davis.

The Bulls play on the road at Michigan State next Saturday for a 12 p.m. kickoff.