Week 1 Preview: The Taggart Era Begins
The voice of USF Athletics routinely puts down his radio headset and picks up the pen to share his perspective on the history of USF Athletics.
Louk has been broadcasting games for 29 years and is the resident historian in the Athletics Department hallways.
Voice of the USF Bulls
Season 17. Game 190.
It’s finally time for football. The Bulls will start the 2013 season the same way they started the 2006 campaign; against the Cowboys of McNeese State.
A few historical notes as we enjoy another opening game:
- Two home openers (1997 and 1998) were played at the old Tampa Stadium. Raymond James Stadium has been the site for the last 14.
- The one most people remember is the very first one. On Sept. 6, 1997, the Bulls crushed Kentucky Wesleyan, 80-3, in the first game in program history.
- The closest call the Bulls have ever had in a home opener occurred on Sept. 11, 1999. In a night of torrential rain, the Bulls held on to edge Southwest Texas State, 17-10.
- The earliest home opener the Bulls ever played was on Aug. 29, 2002 when they beat Florida Atlantic, 51-10. The game featured a 50-minute lightning delay. No USF game would be stopped by weather again until that 2011 game at Notre Dame.
- The latest home opener the Bulls played was Sept. 29, 2001; a 28-10 win over North Texas State. That game was supposed to be the second game of the home season, but a prior game against Utah State was pushed back after 9-11.
- Saturday marks the first time the Bulls have faced a team in more than one home opener.
- In what many consider the Bulls' best season ever, USF struggled in its home opener. On Sept. 1, 2007, Elon stayed close to USF the whole way, with the Bulls finishing on top, 28-13.
- Other than Florida Atlantic in 2002, the Bulls have faced only one state of Florida team in their home openers. Florida A&M fell to the Bulls, 37-3, in 2005.
- The average margin of victory for the Bulls in their 16 home opener games is 39 points, and the Bulls have won all 16 games.
- The 2006 game against McNeese State was an uncomfortable one for the Bulls for most of the evening. From the beginning they outgained the Cowboys in dominating fashion. But opening night Bulls mistakes kept it close. The Cowboys scored first when the Bulls punter dropped a snap in the end zone and McNeese recovered for the touchdown, giving the Cowboys a unique spot in Bulls history. They were the first USF opponent to recover a Bulls fumble in the end zone for a score.
By halftime the Bulls had outgained the Cowboys 153 yards to 94, but USF trailed, 10-7.
The light switch didn’t go on at the beginning of the second half either. It took until 2:04 remaining in the third quarter for the Bulls to finally take the lead, as Matt Grothe, making his USF debut, hit Marcus Edwards for a touchdown pass.
Then, out of nowhere, the Bulls exploded for 27 fourth quarter points en route to a deceivingly one-sided 41-10 win. The late Keeley Dorsey capped the scoring with a 52 yard touchdown run. Grothe wound up 9 of 13 for 171 yards. You could probably win a trivia bet about the Bulls leading rusher of the day; it was Walt Smith, with 70 yards. He’d gain only 11 more yards the rest of the season.
The game wasn’t pretty; the Bulls fumbled three times, threw an interception, and had 10 penalties. But USF clearly showed talent, and it wasn’t a surprise when they went on to a 9-4 finish, capped by their first ever bowl game victory. McNeese State rebounded nicely and finished their year 7-5.
This Saturday a new look USF team will take the field with a new head coach, representing a new conference. There have been significant changes since the Bulls fell to Pittsburgh last Dec. 1, and now it’s time to see what those changes have brought.
Don’t draw too many conclusions about Saturday though. The Bulls have come a long way, but are still a work in progress. And you know they are not going to show everything we will eventually see in week one. There is an air of confidence and togetherness about the team, however, and on opening night if Bulls fans can match the enthusiasm shown by the players and coaches during training camp, we’ll all be off to a great start.
You can pick up a ticket through Ticketmaster.com or you can get a season ticket by calling 1-800-GoBulls.
Our broadcast crew will be in the Bulls Zone in the south parking lot for the pregame show, so come by and see us as we celebrate another year of Bulls football. We begin at 5 p.m., with the kick at 7 p.m..
If you can’t make the game, TV coverage is on ESPN3. Radio is on the USF-IMG Sports Network, anchored by flagship 98.7 The Fan and AM 1010 in Tampa, as well as affiliates around the state.
Seven home games this year! All on Saturdays! Get out and support this team against McNeese State.
As Coach T says, “Who’s got it better than us?”
You know the answer to that by now.
The voice of the Bulls, Jim Louk, offers his perspective of USF Athletics, both past and present.
For 30 years, Jim Louk has been the voice of USF Athletics.
Louk came to USF in 1983 as the radio play-by-play announcer for the USF men's basketball team and served as the lead voice until the conclusion of the 1996-97 season. He then made the transition to football in USF's inaugural 1997 campaign, and still serves as the team's play-by-play announcer today. Louk will come into the 2013 football season having broadcast every Bulls football game in history - a span of 189 games.
He has handled USF TV play by play broadcasts on SportsChannel, Fox Sports Florida, and Brighthouse Sports Network. His career includes over 1,500 play by play broadcasts of USF events, including football, men's and women's basketball, baseball, softball, men's and women's soccer and volleyball.
This series of articles for GoUSFBulls.com began in 2010.
A native of Rochester, N.Y., Louk is a 1979 graduate of the University of Bridgeport where he earned a bachelor's degree in journalism. Louk and his wife Barbara reside in Lutz. Their son Ross is a junior in college.