The Bulls enter this week with their much-anticipated Week 1 matchup with Florida A&M in the forefront of their minds. As for what to expect, the Rattlers have kept that much under wraps.
FAMU is no powerhouse — projected to finish in the basement of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference — but they do have one advantage heading to Tampa,: few have seen them play under their new coaching staff.
“(FAMU) has a whole new coaching staff,” USF coach Willie Taggart said during the AAC’s weekly teleconference. “Most of what we’ve had to go off of was where they’ve been.”
On offense, Taggart and his staff have spent time looking at the University of Buffalo’s film over the last four seasons in which Alex Wood, FAMU’s new head coach, resided as the offensive coordinator.
As for the defense, FAMU runs a 4-3 scheme, but Taggart said that’s about as much as they have to go on. Since 2004, Rattler defensive coordinator Theo Lemon worked for three schools including the College of DuPage, Central State and Savannah State before a seven-year absence from coaching.
In those years, Lemon ran a multitude of schemes, giving Taggart a blurred vision of what USF might see at Raymond James Stadium on Saturday night.
However, Taggart said he doesn’t want his players to focus on the unknown, but instead to keep their sights on their own game.
“It’s not about the opponent, it’s about what we do and just going out and executing what we do and understanding how we do it,” Taggart said. “We’re going to have to adjust a little bit in the game, but we just have to be sharp and execute.”
Flowers ready for Rattlers
USF will head into this Week 1 matchup with a young and inexperienced quarterback.
Sophomore Quinton Flowers has made one start in his college career at a position that demands respect and leadership, but Taggart just wants Flowers to focus on playing his game.
“We talked to Quinton this offseason about leadership at the quarterback position, but the best way for Quinton to be a leader for us is by example,” Taggart said. “We have enough guys on the team that can lead this team. The thing we need for him to do is to be the best football player he can be, the best student he can be and to keep himself out of trouble.”
Flowers completed just 6-of-15 passes for 105 yards in his lone start against SMU last season, but Taggart acknowledged that the offense has changed for the better with the young, dual-threat QB behind center.
“You see guys get a lot more excited because of some of the plays that he makes,” Taggart said. “I know from a receiver standpoint, those guys understand that there’s going to be times where he’s going to expect big plays and for them to get open. We can get a lot of big time plays because of some of the things he can do.”
Show up and show out
With FAMU coming off a 3-9 season — with the speculation of a similar season in 2015 — USF is expected to, in the words of Taggart, ‘Show up and show out.’
“That’s something we look to do every time we go out and perform on game day,” Taggart said. “We practice well all week and then we go out and want to put on a good show. That’s something we’ve been stressing this whole offseason.”
With new schemes and coaching staff, there will be no guarantees for this weekend’s game. Taggart said he expects growing pains, but looks for growth.
“We’re banking on going out and putting on a great show. But you go into first games and you never know what may happen,” Taggart said. “You always make the most improvement from Game 1 to Game 2. When you go into Game 1, you don’t know what’s going to happen. You just prepare and trust your technique.”