TAMPA – The scoreboard read McNeese State 53, USF 21.
And the sad thing is the score almost made the game seem closer than it really was.
Willie Taggart’s debut with USF could not been graded as anything more than a disaster.
So begins the rebuild of the South Florida football program. Saturday’s drubbing by McNeese State proved that, much like Drake claims, the Bulls will be starting from the bottom.
“I want to apologize to the Bulls Nation for that performance,” Taggart said in Saturday’s post-game press conference. “That was awful. The players, coaches, we just didn’t do a good job overall.”
The goal for the rest of the season is going to be for this coaching staff to find out who wants to play for the program and who can play at an FBS level. More than likely that means a lot of true freshmen will get on the field in the next few weeks.
It also means that the decision to go with Matt Floyd as the starting quarterback was not the right one. Floyd was hoping Saturday was the start of a new career with the Bulls and a chance to win over the fans that were skeptical of him. Instead Floyd completely melted down under the lights at Raymond James Stadium.
Coming out of halftime Floyd’s body language told of a young man that had officially thrown in the towel. Despite that Taggart sent him out for another drive in the start of the second half and Floyd threw another interception that led to another touchdown. Now Taggart will probably have to break the news to Floyd that the team will have to move forward with someone else. The redshirt sophomore quarterback will not be alone. Taggart conceded while Floyd struggled, others flat out quit on the team and he wasn’t going to allow it.
“The thing I was concerned about was how our team was going to respond when things get tough,” Taggart said. “The biggest nightmare happened and when things got rough we kind of folded.”
It sounds cruel and it is unfortunate. But in today’s world of college football it’s here today…gone today. Taggart reminded all in the press conference that he’s been here before. He walked into a hopeless situation in 2010 at Western Kentucky. The Hilltoppers went 2-10 his first season and won a share of the Sun Belt title in 2011. In 2012 the Hilltoppers made a bowl game and they opened 2013 with a victory over Kentucky for new coach Bobby Petrino.
Taggart knows what needs to be done and believe that it’s a tough part of the job. There’s nothing worse than telling a young man barely out of his teen years that he isn’t good enough to play. He’s spent the past eight months working on building trust with the players in the program and now he has to force them to face the reality that he stared at Saturday night.