Now that all of the games involving USF have been played (including the All-Star games) we have to look back at what happened this season. The season started off with a win, a win which wouldn’t seem like much if it weren’t for the fact that USF started off with a loss against an FBS program last season and the win was against a solid football team. USF was losing to Western Carolina and looked out-matched most of the game, but found a way to win at the end largely in part to an AMAZING and record performance by freshman running back Marlon Mack. A star was born that day, but USF fans couldn’t be too happy being that they barely beat an FBS team. Looking back at it now, we see that Western Carolina wasn’t an ordinary FBS team and had a very impressive season led by senior defensive back extraordinaire Ace Clark.
Following the season opener, USF hosted Maryland in a game which carried with it national attention. USF’s defense showed up in a big and somewhat unexpected way keeping the Bulls in the game. The defense which was so tough against Maryland might have taken a day off the next week against North Carolina State as the Bulls got romped 49-17. The game against Connecticut was also a defensive show-down and also a much needed victory for the Bulls. The Bulls pulled off a tough win against a weak Connecticut team 17-14.
USF went up to Madison, Wisconsin for its fifth game and after the beating USF took from NC State and how well Melvin Gordan was playing, USF seemed highly likely to get pounded on national television. The Wisconsin game was a show-down between two top ten running backs in Melvin Gordan and Marlon Mack. USF held Gordan in check for most the game, but allowed him to run wild at the end and secure a 27-10 victory for the Badgers.
USF hosted Eastern Carolina for its homecoming. At 2-3 the Bulls needed this win for a realistic chance of heading to a bowl game. The Bulls had back their star Andre Davis for this game and needed him back badly. Although the Bulls looked much better than ECU most of the game, ECU found a way to win the game at the end. Bulls did get a victory against Tulsa in Tulsa although it wasn’t a pretty one. Following the Tulsa win, USF needed to win 3 out of their next 5 games to become bowl eligible, but one of those wins did not come the following week against the Cincinnati Bearcats whom won decisively.
USF hosted Houston in their Veterans and MIlitary Appreciation day, but the game didn’t go well from the get-go as the Bulls fell 27-3. USF put themselves back together when they traveled to Dallas, Texas to take on the Southern Methodist University Mustangs. The Bulls pulled off a squeaker getting by with a win with a one point margin 14-13. The Bulls needed to win their remaining two game to become bowl eligible, but lost the following week against Memphis. The Memphis game guaranteed USF would have another losing season under Willie Taggart.
Despite the guaranteed losing season and elimination from bowl hopes, USF fans were excited about hosting in-state rival the University of Central Florida Golden Knights. A win against the Golden Knights would have made everything better and the season may have even been considered a success especially looking back from last year. The game had not gone as USF had hoped. USF’s offense looked dreadful against UCF. UCF’s offense managed the ball well and consistently drove it down the field. UCF beat USF 16-0 in the season’s first shut out and the team’s first home shot out.
The season had many calling for Willie Taggart’s head. Many journalists were predicting USF would turn another coaching page. The curse USF received from firing Jim Leavitt started to seem more real. USF’s effort not to have a revolving door at head coach and his good recruiting effors seem to be the only reason he is still a Bull. Taggart did the right thing by getting rid of his offensive coordinator and his defensive coordinator. In getting new assistants, Taggart showed that he will not allow others to hold him down.
Despite a rough season, the Bulls looked good in the all-star games. The Bulls had several of their players playing in all-star games including Reshard Cliett, Andre Davis, Quinterrius Eatmon, Chris Dunkley, and Marvin Kloss. Davis and Eatmon dazzled during practice (Davis at the Shrine Game and Eatmon at the Medal of Honor bowl). Kloss came up huge in the Shrine game getting the offensive MVP award.
The most positive notes of the season came from the fact that the best players on the team were under-classman. USF named Andre Davis as their MVP although it should have been Marlon Mack. Davis did set every receiving record in USF receiving history which is a huge and highly admirable task and is certainly leaving USF as a legend, but it is hard to award him MVP when he missed 4 1/2 seasons and his stats weren’t too impressive overall (although the stats were solid for the amount of time he played). Mack wasn’t the only under classman to lead the Bulls as Nate Godwin, Devin Abraham, and Nigel Harris all had phenomenal seasons. With Godwin, Abraham, and Harris, USF looks to field a very solid defense next year. Mack can help anchor an offense that seriously needs much improvement. USFas as a whole needs to improve from this season or else you will likely see some big changes made after next season.