USF football coach Willie Taggart says offensive excitement here to stay

Marlon Mack moved to 28th nationally in rushing yards — 115.2 yards per game — after racking up 184 in 
USF’s win over Syracuse on Saturday. ORACLE PHOTO/ADAM MATHIEU

The first step was installing the flash, sizzle and zing on gameday. The key now will be sustaining it for seven more games.

USF coach Willie Taggart said Monday during his weekly AAC coaches teleconference that the Bulls’ newfound electric offense that produced 535 yards in Saturday’s 45-24 victory over Syracuse is here to stay.

“That’s who we are,” Taggart said. “I think that’s how our guys operate. They’re aggressive players, and our guys play well when we’re playing aggressive.”

After saying the team would stick to its run-first mentality against the Orange early in the week, Taggart switched things up when the Bulls took the field at Raymond James Stadium, calling more pass plays, including a reverse flea-flicker that resulted in a 42-yard touchdown catch by Ryeshene Bronson.

Starting quarterback Quinton Flowers said after the game that he met with Taggart on Wednesday to discuss opening up the offense more. 

“I told coach, ‘Hey, just give me a shot. Just give me a chance. Let me go out there and play my game,” the sophomore said. “He called me up to his office and he said, ‘Hey, I’m going to let you go. I’m going to let the offense go and I want to see what you guys can do with it.’”

The Bulls fulfilled the plan with near-perfection, putting up their most points against a Division I-A opponent since Taggart took over the program from Skip Holtz in 2013. Flowers also had a career-day through the air, throwing for 259 yards with three total touchdowns.

“He is, to me, the profile of what you’re looking for from a tangible-trait standpoint, for that offense,” Connecticut coach Bob Diaco said. “A strong, strong runner, but also a guy that can throw. 

“He’s not a wildcat quarterback. It’s a legitimate guy that can move the ball around the field.”

It helped running back Marlon Mack, too, as the sophomore racked up 184 yards to move to 28th nationally in rushing yards (115.2 per game).

Now, it will be about keeping the momentum on Saturday against UConn at noon.

“We’ve had those plays in our playbook, we just hadn’t called them much,” Taggart said. “It was good for our guys to go out and execute them when we did call them. But that was the excitement that we felt like we could see out of our football team and we’ve got to continue that. 

“Now, our guys have got to show that they can do that, week in and week out.”