This past weekend was 2013 university of South Florida spring game at Raymond James Stadium. Walking to my seat, there was a high level of excitement from the fans and a lot of that can be attributed to the hiring of former Western Kentucky Hilltoppers coach Willie Taggart. After a disappointing 2012 season which saw the end of the Skip Holtz era, the fans expectations are high due to the success that Taggart had in turning around the Hilltoppers program over the past couple of seasons.
The team was divided into a green and white squad and assigned to each team through a draft. The key position for both sides was under center at quarterback as the Bulls look to find a replacement for former star BJ Daniels. The white squad was led by Redshirt sophomore QB Matt Floyd who saw action in 7 games last year, starting two and the green squad had local hero and former Tampa Jesuit quarterback, Redshirt Senior Bobby Eveld leading them, who saw game action last season as well. As its said on all levels of football, if you have two quarterbacks that probably means you don’t have one, and it looks like coach Taggart still has a lot to sort out at a very key position; Floyd struggled with taking the snap under center and Eveld, while the elder statesmen, did nothing to separate him from his competition.
One offensive position that looks to be in good hands is the receiver spot with junior receiver Andre Davis putting on ashow with two touchdowns one being of the 85 yards variety. While some Bulls fans were worried about not having fire power at the position due to losing junior Terence Mitchell, who had 31 catches for 414 yards, to a position switch the team may actually be better on both sides of the ball because of it. Another guy they were hoping to get a significant contribution from this year was Florida Gators transfer Chris Dunkely who had to sit out last year because of the transfer,but now is on the sidelines indefinitely after being charged with domestic abuse last year.
Defensively it looks like thelinebacker position will the the strength of the team with DeDe Lattimore, Hans Louis and Reshard Cliett leading the charge. All three had strong games with Cliett, the redshirt junior from Georgia, having the games only interception. The linebackers will be even better if the defensive end combination of Aaron Lynch and Ryne Giddens live up to their prep hype; Lynch was the former #2 DE in the nation in 2010 and Giddens the #12 DE in 2009 according to Scout.com. Both will be asked by the coaching staff to generate enough pressure up front in order to make life easier for the back 7.
While the program may incur some growing pains until they settle on a quarterback, find consistency at running back and get continuity from the defensive backfield, Bulls fans can be optimistic in knowing that coach Taggart will get the program back on track and eventually put them in contention to capture that Big East title that has eluded them since joining the conference in 2005.