USF coach Willie Taggart said he’s been an “attitude coach” since the season-opening loss to McNeese State.
An offseason spent trying to convert an entire roster to Taggart’s football philosophies certainly didn’t materialize in the way Taggart or his players envisioned in the Week 1 loss.
But according to senior defensive tackle Luke Sager, things improved in Week 2 preparation for Michigan State, even though it didn’t result in a win.
“When the little things go wrong, everything goes down. But no one gave up (against Michigan State),” Sager said. “We came out in practice a lot harder (after McNeese).”
Now, in the third week of football season, it seems players are still transitioning into the Taggart way of doing things.
With a noticeable improvement from Game 1 to Game 2, Taggart echoed that sentiment, looking for another upward trend this week.
“If we continue to improve, we’ll start to get the results we’re all looking for,” Taggart said. “We’re not there yet, but we’re getting there.”
At a press conference Tuesday, several players and coaches spoke about turnovers getting in the way of their success.
“We can’t turn the ball over,” Taggart said. ”We can’t help other people beat us.”
With 14 of Michigan State’s 21 points scored off turnovers, that message rings loud and clear according to senior running back Marcus Shaw, who said in order to beat Florida Atlantic University, USF cannot turn the ball over.
But for the first time this season, USF has some continuity in practice throughout the week, as Taggart announced senior Bobby Eveld as the starting quarterback.
Offensive coordinator Walt Wells said naming Eveld as the starter from the beginning of the week gives him and the rest of the offense a better chance to be successful this weekend.
“It gives Eveld a chance to develop all week with the first team without rotating in and out,” Wells said. ”That will give him an advantage in knowing what coach Taggart will be running Saturday. It gives him a familiarity and comfort level with that and keeps him in tune with the receivers and offensive line.”
Defensively, USF could lose a bit of familiarity with the potential absence of the Bulls’ second leading tackle redshirt junior linebacker Reshard Cliett.
Taggart also said Cliett is questionable for Saturday’s game with a shoulder injury, but said players “heal differently around here.”
If Cliett doesn’t play, true freshman Nigel Harris will start in his place.