Commentary | Taggart tries another QB change as USF offense stagnates again

adell@bradenton.comOctober 27, 2013 

TAMPA

If the USF end zone could speak, it would put out an all-points, missing-persons bulletin.

This poor little patch of green hasn't had a USF offensive player visit its home in three games. Loneliness has never been so triumphant.

But it didn't have to scream for help, thanks to Willie Taggart.

The USF coach had seen enough, or perhaps it was what he hadn't seen.

With less than eight minutes left in the Bulls' 34-3 loss to Louisville on Saturday, Taggart pulled the redshirt cape off true freshman quarterback Mike White.

Taggart said the move was fueled by desire not desperation.

"It wasn't that I had to try it. I wanted to try it," Taggart said. "I wanted to see what the kid can do for us. He's going to get the opportunity, and we'll see how he does."

If Taggart isn't desperate, he has to be frustrated.

USF (2-5) has scored six offensive touchdowns in its seven games. Thanks to the defense, the Bulls are somehow 2-1 in the American Athletic Conference.

The last time the USF offense scored a touchdown came with two seconds left in a 49-21 loss to Miami. Prior to that, the Bulls scored in the second quarter of a loss to FAU; if you are counting, the offense has scored one touchdown in the last 18 quarters.

Against Louisville, the Bulls had 25 yards of total offense at halftime and finished with 133. Louisville's time of possession was more than twice that of USF.

White verbally committed to USF on Dec. 8, the day Taggart was hired as the Bulls head coach.

The 6-foot-5, 200-pounder led Fort Lauderdale University High to a state title last year, completing 70 percent of his passes for his undefeated team. It was the only year he started.

"He is a smart kid and has a little swagger that you like at the quarterback position." Taggart said. "He has great anticipation when he throws the football and has a great touch on the deep ball.

"He is a pure drop-back quarterback and can make all the throws we need him to make. But he is green."

White only got to throw two passes and completed one. But Taggart said he would start Thursday night at Houston.

White will be the Bulls' fourth starting quarterback. Matt Floyd started the first game and gave way to Bobby Eveld in the second game. Eveld then started and struggled and was replaced by Steven Bench, who looked decent in a loss to Miami but gave the job back to Eveld because of an injury.

Eveld got hurt against Louisville and was on crutches. Bench replaced him. He completed 4 of 12 passes for 68 yards and threw a 70-yard interception for a touchdown before White replaced him.

"When it comes to redshirts, I always say we will do what is best for the player and for the program," Taggart said. "Right now, I am going to go with Mike and see if he can give us some juice. We are trying to win some ballgames."

People who don't know Taggart will say this was a move made out of desperation, maybe even panic. But his personal history says otherwise.

He was a scrawny kid who looked like he needed a meal when he took over Joe Kinnan's offense as a junior and led Manatee to a state title. He set 11 school offensive records at WKU, including the Division I record for rushing yards by a quarterback.

"We are looking for playmakers. I don't care if we have to play guys both ways," Taggart said. "Our defense played good today, but was on the field too much. You can't expect to hold a team like Louisville down for long."

Copeland scores

The Cardinals came into the game ranked first in the conference in total offense and scored on their first possession when Palmetto High graduate Damian Copeland caught a 20-yard TD pass from Teddy Bridgewater.

Making his 21st consecutive start and named team captain for the game, Copeland caught five passes for 63 yards.

Bridgewater completed 25 of 29 passes for 344 yards. The Bulls sacked him three times and registered five sacks and 11 tackles for a loss. The defense just couldn't get any help.

"Our defense kept us in the ball game for awhile. If we could get some help from our offense, it would've been a totally different game," Taggart said. "You've got to get some touchdowns against a team like that to have a chance."

USF has had nine true freshmen play this year (six on defense, three on offense). Marvin Kloss kicked a 50-yard field goal. It was his 10th straight make, and he is 3-for-3 on field goals of 50 plus yards

Alan Dell, Herald sports writer, can be reached at 941-745-7056. Follow him on Twitter at @ADellSports.

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