USF quarterback Quinton Flowers and running back D’Ernest Johnson were held out of Sunday’s practice as they continue to nurse injuries sustained late in Saturday’s 38-14 victory over SMU, coach Willie Taggart said Monday.
Flowers suffered a thigh contusion when he dove toward the end zone for his third touchdown run in the fourth quarter and did not return. Johnson injured his knee on the next possession.
On the weekly American Athletic Conference coaches teleconference, Taggart said their statuses should improve as the team gets closer to Saturday’s game at Navy in Annapolis, Maryland.
“They are getting better by the day,” he said. “Sunday, they both were really, really sore. I saw both of the guys (Monday) and they’re walking a lot better, feeling a lot better.
“I think as each day goes by, they’ll continue to get better, but (they’re) a lot better than they were on Saturday.”
Also, sophomore tailback Marlon Mack, who was sidelined against the Mustangs as a precaution due to a strained hamstring, returned to practice and should play against the Midshipmen.
“He looked like the old Marlon,” Taggart joked. “That was good to see him go out and run around and did some things with our guys without having any issues with his hamstring.”
Praise for O’Leary
With George O’Leary stepping down as UCF’s coach after 12 years, Taggart put aside the rivalry between the programs to praise the 69-year-old.
“He’s been great for the game of football,” Taggart said. “You look what he’s done over his career and the lives he’s affected over the years — he affected a lot of young men that are out doing things well in the world now. … He’ll go away with a great legacy.”
Tight ends coach Michael Barrett was named UCF’s interim coach for the rest of the season. The Knights (0-8) host USF on Thanksgiving.
Taggart has experience against Navy, though he would probably like to forget that game. While at Western Kentucky in 2011, Taggart’s Hilltoppers fell 40-14 to the Midshipmen at home.
When asked if he would use that same game plan on Saturday, Taggart quipped: “I wouldn’t say that, because when I was at Western, we didn’t win. So, I don’t know if we’re going to go with that game plan.”
While defending Navy’s triple-option offensive attack will be at the forefront of USF’s preparations this week, Taggart said his team must remain disciplined.
“We’ve just got to go and play disciplined with great effort and trust the plan,” Taggart said. “I think our coaches will come up with a great game plan and it’s important that we go out and execute it as a team.”