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USF mailbag: Can the Bulls bounce back against Memphis?

Sophomore running back Marlon Mack (5) will be key for USF against Memphis on Friday. ORACLE FILE PHOTO/ADAM MATHIEU

With USF idle this week, the team’s attention turns to its conference opener against Memphis on Friday night. In our first Bulls mailbag of the season, we tackle your questions about the offense, coach Willie Taggart and more. You can submit questions for future mailbags anytime via Twitter @ByJeffOdom or by emailing

“What are the chances we see a bounce back from USF’s offense against Memphis? Marlon Mack can’t be contained for long.” – Matt

The Bulls showed promise at times against Maryland, but the sheer number of dropped passes and penalties raise some obvious red flags. Sure, this team was rolling against Florida A&M in its opener, but it has yet to have any sort of consistency against Division I-A opponents. Memphis ranking 110th in the nation in total defense certainly helps USF’s chances. But the Bulls need to be more disciplined — something Taggart has indicated is a focus for the bye week.

“Do you see support for Willie Taggart waning? Preseason optimism seems gone. I don’t hear many wanting Taggart in 2016 as much.” – Larry

There is undoubtedly a large sector of USF’s fan base that is unhappy, and it’s easy to understand their frustration. The pageantry that came with the offseason success — excellent recruiting class, new coordinators — is mostly gone. One swipe through Twitter last Saturday affirmed that with more followers than I can recall calling for Taggart’s job. To be fair, I think one thing needs to be put in perspective: it’s still early in the season. There aren’t any bowl invitations or championship trophies being awarded in Week 3. If the team’s performance continues to wane as the season moves along and more losses come with it, then yes, support for Taggart will crumble. But if the Bulls beat Memphis and then Syracuse on homecoming, the message board catcalls will surely die down.

“If Taggart manages to scramble five more wins, is it better to keep him for another year or start with a new coach?” – Chris

Five more wins would put this team at 6-6 and in a bowl game. If Taggart is able to reach that point, he absolutely will get to 2016 — and he should. USF hasn’t been to a bowl game since winning the Meineke Car Care Bowl under Skip Holtz five years ago. If the Bulls show some major improvement from now until their regular-season finale at UCF on Thanksgiving, keep games close, but only muster four more victories, I still think he’s deserving of at least one more year. You want to see improvement from year to year and even a competitive 5-7 season would do that.

“What is the over/under before Dick Tomey takes the keys to the bus?” – Marve

I find it hard to believe there will be a coaching change midseason if things go south, or that the 77-year-old Tomey would be called upon to finish out a season. The former Arizona coach is currently in an associate athletic director role and hasn’t coached a game since retiring in 2009. While anything can happen, I’d only set the possibility at 10 percent.