Despite Thanksgiving falling smack in the middle of game week, USF coach Willie Taggart isn’t preparing for a holiday when his Bulls host in-state rival UCF on Saturday afternoon.
Much improved after finishing 2015 without a win, the Knights (6-5, 4-3) have a different feel and mentality under first-year coach Scott Frost, according to Taggart.
“They play with great effort, first and foremost,” Taggart said during Monday’s AAC coaches’ teleconference.
“You see guys running around and flying to the football defensively. I think they have a really good defense and I think by far this is going to be the best defense we’ve played since Temple…I think coach Frost has done a great job of getting those kids to believe and play hard. They are so much more improved than where they were last year.”
Unlike Taggart, Frost isn’t looking to put more emphasis on any one game during his rebuilding process, insisting that the “War on I-4” is no bigger than any other on the Knights’ schedule this season.
“You know, I think this is just another game for us,” Frost said.
“There’s a little bit more on the line because it’s our last game; there’s a little more because it’s a team right down the road. But, I think some of those things get overblown.”
Despite the Bulls knocking off the Knights handily last season in a 44-3 rout in Orlando, Taggart says his squad is well aware of the importance of not overlooking their neighbors to the east.
“I tell our guys to come ready to play,” Taggart said.
“You throw the records out, it’s 0-0. This game’s going to have a lot of emotion and guys are going to be ready to play. You just have to go and play your game and not do more than what you’ve been doing or less than what you’ve been doing…it’s going to take 60 minutes to win this game. It’s going to be tough, it’s going to be fun, but this is why you come to school to play and enjoy the moment.”