Commentary | Turnovers derail USF football team's recovery in 28-10 loss to FAU

September 15, 2013 

TAMPA

USF football is hard to watch these days.

The offense score points for the wrong team, and the quarterbacks make defensive backs look like first-round draft choices.

This is not feast or famine football. It's all famine at the moment.

For the first time in program history, the Bulls are 0-3 after losing 28-10 to FAU on Saturday night. Actually, no USF team had started 0-2, if anyone cares.

Head coach Willie Taggart cares and right now he is doing his imitation of shuffling chairs on the Titanic while trying to stop the leaks.

After the embarrassing defeat to McNeese State, the Bulls defense played well in a loss to Michigan State.

The defense only allowed two touchdowns against FAU, but you can only hold the fort down for so long.

The Michigan State game gave hope that this program was headed in the right direction. But turnovers will stop you dead in your tracks every time.

The Bulls offense gave FAU 14 points on a fumble and an interception, the same thing it did the previous week against Michigan State.

"I am more disappointed about turnovers than anything. I have never been a part of something like this," Taggart said. "We are just not turning it over. Our turnovers are giving the other team points. We are not a good football team right now because we are not taking care of the ball."

Taggart has used three quarterbacks this season, and each of them has thrown an interception that was returned for a touchdown.

If you are a dream maker like Taggart, you will need to muster all your ingenuity. And a strong stomach wouldn't hurt.

It's good he went through a similar thing at Western Kentucky three years ago when he came to rescue that sinking ship.

Turnovers are killing the Bulls, but his offense is also stuck in mud, perhaps because he hasn't been able to find a quarterback, and his receivers are not playing well.

"We've got to get this offense going, and that's on me," Taggart said. "But it's not just our quarterbacks. Guys have to get open and catch the ball and they are not doing that on a consistent basis. We will find a way to get this offense going and create some points and find playmakers and put them on the field."

Taggart's job now is not for the timid. You have to believe and stick to the course or things will start unraveling. Turnovers tend to run in cycles. Some are the result of bad play and some come because of bad luck.

The Bulls are off next Saturday, which means the offense can't turn the ball over. That's a good thing.

Miami comes into Raymond James in two weeks. After beating Florida, the Canes might be looking ahead.

In the first quarter Saturday, running back Marcus Shaw ran into quarterback Bobby Eveld, knocking the ball out of his hands. Cory Henry scooped it up and ran 10 yards for a touchdown.

A 50-yard field goal and 26-yard touchdown pass from Steven Bench gave the Bulls a 10-7 lead, and the future looked bright.

Fans have been clamoring for Bench, the transfer from Penn State. The sophomore gave them flashes of hope. But it was his first collegiate game of any consequence, and he was inconsistent.

He completed 8 of 22 passes for 134 yards and a touchdown. His stat sheet includes an interception returned 75 yards for a touchdown

Getting that first win can relieve a lot of pressure and make things flow smoother. There is a feeling that many of the players like Taggart so much they want to win more for him than themselves.

"I do think some of them are pressing because of that, and I don't want that. I tell them to win for themselves not for me," Taggart said. "It's not about getting win for me. It's about our players and caring for each other. I never thought in a million years we would lose our first two home games, but when you turn the ball over like we have, you can't beat anybody."

Alan Dell, Herald sportswriter, can be reached at 941-745-7080, ext. 2112. Follow him on Twitter at@ADellSports.

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