Bye week gives Bulls a much-needed breather

Senior wide receiver Andre Davis is back on the field after missing four weeks with a bruised sternum.

Coming off a second half collapse against No.19 Wisconsin, coach Willie Taggart and the team have a bye week to take a step back and evaluate where they need work going forward. 

Room for improvement 

“For me it’s just getting back to fundamentals,” Taggart said during the AAC’s weekly teleconference. “Sometimes you get away from those things and we need our guys to get to where they’re playing with good technique. If we get better with that, we’ll get better on the football field.” 

The Bulls played a fundamentally sound first half against Wisconsin, but were unable to stop the Badgers’ offense, let alone get their own rolling. 

“We didn’t have the ball much,” Taggart said. “In the second half we only had the ball 6:23. A lot of the things we wanted to do offensively, we couldn’t do because we didn’t have the ball enough.” 

The Bulls have two weeks to prepare for their homecoming matchup with AAC foe East Carolina, and Taggart has nailed down his two areas of focus for the off week. 

“Penalties are one, and we have to be better on third down,” Taggart said. “If we can get better in those two areas, we’ll have a pretty good football team.” 

USF had 11 penalties for 90 yards and converted only two of nine third-down attempts (.222) in its 27-10 loss to Wisconsin. 

“We’re getting in team situational periods working on third downs,” junior guard Thor Jozwiak said. “We have to know whether it’s third-and-long or if it’s third-and-short and we have to understand those assignments in order to get the job done.” 

Davis is back 

Senior wide receiver Andre Davis will return to game action following the off week. Davis has been sidelined for most of the season after bruising his sternum on a diving catch in USF’s season opener. 

“I had a bit of trouble breathing, not able to control it,” Davis said. “I was breathing hard, but coming out running was a problem for me. Now my breathing is back to 100 percent and I’m fine.” 

Davis was fully dressed for practice yesterday, but wore a bright red jersey to emphasize that he is still non-contact. Though he isn’t participating much in hitting drills, Davis worked with other receivers and ran all routes without hesitation. 

“I’m 100, ready to go, 100 percent,” Davis said. 

Davis is closing in on a few school records this season and said, even with the time lost, those goals are still attainable for him. 

A glimpse of East Carolina 

USF will take on East Carolina following the bye week. The Pirates have exceeded expectations so far this season; scoring 70 points against UNC last week, bringing them to (3-1) on the season. 

“I’ve studied East Carolina,” Taggart said. “They are a really good football team. They have some really talented athletes that can not only run, but run after the catch and they’re playing with a lot of confidence.” 

The Pirates boast a high-powered offense with plenty of NFL talent, including senior wide receiver Justin Hardy and senior quarterback Shane Carden who leads the conference in total yards. 

“They have a couple guys that could play in the NFL,” Taggart said. “They’re a really talented football team and our guys are looking forward to this challenge.” 

USF plays its homecoming game against East Carolina on Oct. 11 at Raymond James Stadium. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. and the game will be broadcasted on ESPNU.