USF is coming off one of its worst losses of the season and has two weeks to prepare for the SMU Mustangs (0-7, 0-3).
In an effort to inspire the team and offer a unique perspective, coach Willie Taggart brought in retired U.S. Army soldier Leroy Petry, who is one of only 79 living recipients of the Medal of Honor.
Petry spoke to the Bulls about teamwork and how it’s no different on the battlefield than on the football field.
“His message was just amazing,” junior guard Thor Jozwiak said. “Telling us to push through the mental blocks. The human body will do things that you don’t know it can unless you’re pushed to that point. That can apply to the football field: when we get tired or are going through a little adversity, you have to have that positive mindset and keep
Taggart said having the message come through a military hero such as Petry helps because he has been through some of the most difficult things a person could go through.
“It’s some of the same message we’ve been delivering to our guys and just to hear it from a different voice – a different person – in a more serious situation than football,” Taggart said.
Bulls focused on running game for SMU
USF (3-6, 2-3) only rushed for 76 yards against Houston on Saturday, despite throwing only five passes in the first half. The Bulls didn’t have a single player with 50 rushing yards and the longest run of the game was a 13-yard scamper by freshman Marlon Mack.
Taggart said the Bulls will be making the running game a point of emphasis heading into the Bulls’ next game on Nov. 15 at SMU.
“One of our main goals this week in practice is to establish a solid run game that we can count on, no matter what situation,” Jozwiak said. “So we as an O-line have taken that upon ourselves and we take it personal, because we want our backs to rush for a ton of yards. That makes us look good.”
To improve blocking strength and technique, the offensive line has been working extensively with sleds at practice.
“(We’ve been) pushing and driving the sled and doing a lot of team work against our defense, who are good guys to go against,” Jozwiak said.
Fixing the play-calling
In Saturday’s game against Houston, USF had difficulty getting the play call in before the clock ran out. Twice, the Bulls had to call timeouts to avoid a delay -of-game penalty because they were taking so long.
Offensive Coordinator Paul Wulff said speeding up the play-calling has been a top priority this week.
“There’s just times when we’re getting guys in and out and sometimes the clock gets set quickly,” Wulff said. “There were a few times where it happened and we have to eliminate that and improve on that and we have worked on that this week a lot.”
Taggart said the issues with getting the play call in falls on the shoulders of the coaching staff and that’s something that will be worked on before the Bulls’ next game.
“That was part of getting the play in,” Taggart said. “We have to do a better job of getting the play in so the kids can go execute.”