After one quarter against Syracuse on Saturday, USF lay in a 17-point hole dug out by miscues and sloppy play.
But no one on the USF sideline panicked.
“I told them when (adversity) comes, we’re not gonna flinch; we’re gonna look it in the eye and say, ‘Bring it on,’” USF coach Willie Taggart said after the game. “Sure enough, we’re down (17-0), no one panicked or anything. Guys just said, ‘Let’s go, we’re all right.”
The 17-point deficit was the largest comeback since overcoming a 20-point hole against Tulsa in 2014.
Despite the sluggish start, USF rattled off 28 unanswered points in the second quarter and finished the game on a 45-3 run, due in large part to the offensive burst of senior wideout Rodney Adams who had three touchdowns (two rushing, one receiving) in the game.
“It was a slow start, but we had to collect ourselves on the sideline, tell each other to calm down and just play football like we normally do,” Adams said. “We calmed down and things started going our way.”
Adams has now scored 16 touchdowns in his last 12 games dating back to 2015 and looks to keep up his rapid pace as USF heads into their biggest test of the Taggart Era.
Despite then-No. 2 FSU getting ran out of the building 63-20 at the hands of No. 9 Louisville, next week’s matchup doesn’t seem to have lost any of its edge.
After suffering its worst loss since joining the ACC in 1992, its not surprising that the Noles were left with a bad taste in their mouths — a taste they will look to avenge against the Bulls.
“I don’t want to experience this ever again,” FSU defensive end Demarcus Walker told reporters after the rout. “You will never see somebody out-hustle, run to the ball, lead, out-work me from now on.
“I promise, I promise, Nole Nation, I promise you you’re going to see a different team. A different identity.”
A 17-point deficit could end up being a blessing for USF if FSU does in fact come out looking for blood Saturday when the Noles visit Raymond James Stadium.
With the offensive firepower FSU showed in its opening game against Ole Miss — scoring 33 unanswered after falling behind 28-6 — paired with USF’s slow starts so far this season, being resilient may be USF’s key to an upset.
But, for now, Taggart is simply enjoying the win.
“I would say I can’t wait, but I want to enjoy this one for 24 hours,” Taggart said. “Then we’ll be on to FSU.”