At his weekly press conference, coach Willie Taggart laid down the identity with which he wants the Bulls to play.
“Physical, tough, you know it’s coming and you can’t do anything about it, but take it,” he said. “We have to develop a physical, tough attitude.”
The Bulls were outplayed and physically outmatched in their 49-17 loss to N.C. State on Saturday and are looking for solutions.
“My expectations for (the offensive line) are a lot higher than that,” Taggart said. “These guys have the most experience on this team and the most starts and coming into this season we expected that to be the backbone of this football team.”
It all starts with the offensive line, which has been giving sophomore quarterback Mike White little time to set his feet or even find an open receiver.
“There could be a change or two … everyone’s competing and everyone’s got to get better,” offensive coordinator Paul Wulff said. “We didn’t have a particularly good game or two and we need those guys to step up.”
There is no word as to what those changes will be just yet, but without a sturdy offensive line, USF’s offense won’t have much room to grow.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Bulls looked confused and out of sync against N.C. State, something they have recognized from watching film over the weekend.
“There was a lot of miscommunication,” junior safety Jamie Byrd said. “They were moving the ball pretty fast and I think we came out a little unprepared.”
Taggart said the defense was thinking too much during the game and they just have to play the game.
On a positive note for the Bulls, guard Thor Jozwiak might make his return to action this week. Jozwiak sustained a shoulder and toe injury in the first half of USF’s season opener and has not played since. He practiced in full pads Monday and Tuesday and is expected to play Friday.
Senior wide receiver Andre Davis looks like he will miss at least one more week with the sternum injury that he suffered in Week 1.
As bad as this season has been, Taggart has been in an eerily similar situation to the one the Bulls find themselves in now.
At Western Kentucky, Taggart took a team that lost 20-straight games prior to his arrival and accomplished the biggest one-season turnaround in Sun Belt history. After posting a 2-10 record in his first season at WKU — much like his first at USF — Taggart led the Hilltoppers to a 7-5 and then a 7-6 season in his final two years with the team.
During the turnaround, WKU lost four games to open the 2011 season and went on to win seven of its last eight games.
“All (fans) understand is what we’ve done in the past and want to get back there as fast as possible,” Taggart said. “I don’t think this is just a quick fix thing. You have to fix it the right way and build it the right way.”
The Bulls, who were 0-3 at this point last season, have shown spurts of improvement, but are far from being relevant in college football, just yet.
The Bulls will try to improve on their 1-2 record when they take on UConn in their conference opener 8p.m. on Friday at Raymond James Stadium.