Two days after his team was thrashed 35-17 at Maryland, USF coach Willie Taggart blamed poor execution and youth for the Bulls’ second consecutive road defeat.
After taking an early 7-0 lead against the Terrapins on Saturday, USF (1-2) was plagued by dropped passes, questionable decisions, penalties and turnovers as Maryland pulled away in the second half.
During Monday’s AAC coaches teleconference, Taggart hinted at potential changes to his starting lineup after he said USF’s fundamentals “went out the window.”
“When you’re on the road against a good team, you’ve got to play better,” Taggart said. “You can’t flinch. You can’t get rattled and I don’t think our guys really dealt with being behind on the road.
“It showed a lot of our immaturity as a football team and we’ve just got to get better and lock in and, more importantly, we’ve got to execute.”
One position that isn’t expected to change is starting quarterback. Although he lifted sophomore starter Quinton Flowers in favor of senior Steven Bench for one possession late in the third quarter — which he insisted Saturday was part of the team’s game plan — Taggart said Flowers continues to show progress each week.
Flowers, making his fourth-career start, was 10 of 19 for 60 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He also rushed for 85 yards with a touchdown on 24 carries.
“That’s one thing we’re seeing as we watch the film, he is getting more comfortable with what we’re doing, and that’s going to pay off big time for us,” Taggart said. “I think each and every week, he’s just going to continue to get better with our new offense and what we’re doing and getting through some of the kinks.”
The Bulls have the week off before they host reigning AAC co-champion Memphis (3-0) in their conference opener Oct. 2 at Raymond James Stadium.
Taggart said there will be additional emphasis placed on getting back to basics during the extra practice time.
USF currently ranks 79th overall out of 128 Division I-A teams in total offense and is tied for 108th in both team passing and third-down efficiency after three games.
“You look back at that game and that’s what killed us the most is executing the plays,” Taggart said. “You can’t have dropped balls and you can’t have missed tackles.
“We’ve got to get back to doing those things and when we do those things, we’re a good football team.”