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Bucs’ Winston takes in USF’s annual spring game

Jameis Winston, quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, attended the USF spring football game Saturday to support longtime friend LaDarrius Jackson. ORACLE PHOTO/JACKIE BENITEZ

Among a crowd of 4,418 at Corbett Stadium on Saturday stood Tampa Bay Buccaneer quarterback Jameis Winston, wearing a green Bulls tee while he watched the White team defeat the Green team 32-19 in USF’s spring game. 

“That’s big time,” Taggart said of Winston wearing USF gear in support of longtime friend LaDarrius Jackson. “We’re getting better, I mean that says a lot about USF football.

“I know he came over to watch his friend and support his friend. It was great to have a Buccaneer here to support the Bulls.”

With Winston watching as part of a crowd nearly double the size of last year, USF quarterback Quinton Flowers’ play firmly established his hold on the starting quarterback position. 

Flowers led the White team out to a 17-0 start, finishing with 129 yards on 15-of-22 passing with one touchdown and one interception. He also added 45 yards on 10 carries. 

“Awesome, totally awesome,” USF coach Willie Taggart said of the crowd. “Just like our football team, we’re getting better. The fan base is getting better, everyone’s getting excited. That’s kind of how it all works, you start winning, start showing people some signs of life that you can win and people get excited.”

The White team shined on offense, with wide receiver A.J. Legree catching seven passes for 73 yards and wide receiver Tyre McCants catching six passes for 83 yards and two scores. 

Despite junior Marlon Mack and senior Rodney Adams, the leading rusher and receiver from last season, playing for the Green team, the offense was held to six points in the first half. 

“I thought the Green team played sloppy, there was a lot of penalties,” Taggart said. “A lot of balls on the ground, some turnovers. But, I thought overall it was a good scrimmage.”

Play of the day

 

Running down the right sideline, Legree turned around with the football nearly in his chest. The senior wide receiver brought his hands up in the nick of time and got his feet down to secure the catch. 

“I was supposed to run a stop route, but I ended up running a comeback and luckily he held it a second later and he hit me right on time,” Legree said. “I told him if he put it anywhere else, I don’t know if I could have caught it.”

 

Keeping an edge

 

Even with an 8-win season behind them and a spike in fan support, junior linebacker Auggie Sanchez made it clear the Bulls aren’t satisfied with what they’ve accomplished yet.

“We didn’t win the AAC championship, so there’s always that edge,” Sanchez said. “Last time we looked, Houston was celebrating, not us. We didn’t really do anything yet and we lost our last game, so we’ve got a long way to go and we know that. The people patting us on the back is kind of irrelevant.”

Taggart echoed Sanchez’s thoughts, saying there’s still plenty left for USF to accomplish in 2016.

“Our guys are still ticked off about our last game, we didn’t play well at all,” Taggart said. “We haven’t accomplished everything we want to accomplish here. We got better and we’ll continue to get better, but we want to win a championship and we know it’s going to take a lot of work to do that. 

“We’re in uncharted waters right now, we’ve never been in the position where people patting us on the back and telling us how good we are, not since I’ve been here. Every year it was how bad we were, how we weren’t going to do this and that. We’re in a different position now and everyone expects big things, but we’re not going to run away from that either.”