By TOM ZEBOLD
USF Senior Writer
TAMPA – Head coach Willie Taggart is looking for the Bulls to bounce back on the biggest stage they’ve played on all season Saturday against No. 15 Miami at Raymond James Stadium. The sixth meeting of the series is set for a noon start and can be seen nationally on ESPNU.
“It’s not who we’re playing against. It’s about us going out and seeing how good we can be,” Taggart said Monday. “We haven’t shown that yet and we know we’re better than what we’ve shown. What a great opportunity to do it this week against Miami here at home on national TV.”
USF (0-3) is coming off a bye week and will conclude the non-conference portion of its schedule with the test against Miami. The Hurricanes (3-0) are ranked 15th in both national polls this week after handing Savannah State a 77-7 loss last Saturday in Miami Gardens.
“They’re a really good football team. I heard the question earlier in the year: ‘Is The U back?’ I think they’re back,” Taggart said. “They have a lot of talent and they’re doing the things that it takes to win ballgames.”
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Lots of In-State Talent
The Bulls and Hurricanes have a combined total of 142 players from the state of Florida on their rosters.
USF has 86 players from Florida and seven Bulls played high school football in Miami – DT Todd Chandler, DB Trevon Griffin, WR Derrick Hopkins, K Emilio Nadelman, DB Lamar Robbins, RB Darius Tice and DT Elkino Watson.
First-year USF running backs coach Telly Lockette earned Nike and Powerade Coach of the Year honors during his five years as head coach at Miami Central High School. Lockette went 60-10 with the Rockets and led them to three consecutive 6A state championship games.
Bulls in the Rankings
Senior running back Marcus Shaw currently ranks eighth nationally with 132.7 rushing yards per game. The Arcadia, Fla., native ranks 19th in the country in total rushing yards (398) and racked up a career-high 159 yards on 22 carries against FAU on Sept. 14.
USF ranks 23rd nationally in total defense with 305.7 yards allowed per game. The Bulls’ defense has given up an average of 10.5 points in the past two games. Senior linebacker DeDe Lattimore ranks third in the American Athletic Conference with 31 total tackles (10.3 per game).
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