By TOM ZEBOLD
USF Senior Writer
TAMPA – USF will be sporting a special helmet when it battles Memphis 7 p.m. Saturday during Veterans and Military Appreciation night at Raymond James Stadium.
The Bulls will be wearing their green Under Armour uniforms along with white helmet that has a star-studded red, white and blue U on the sides. The helmet also has an American flag stripe down the center and a “Got Your 6” decal on the back. The Bulls will also wear patches representing the five branches of the armed services (Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines & Navy) with one patch appearing on each uniform.
“It’s big-time. I think it’s really good what we’re doing for our military and it’s a great way to honor them,” head coach Willie Taggart said. “I think it will be even better by going out and playing well.”
USF, through the Office of Veterans Services, has partnered with “Got Your 6” to develop a pilot program called “The Got Your 6 Campus Success Network” that provides student-veterans with on-campus academic and professional support. The program began at the beginning of the year and through the Student-Veterans Association (SVA), faculty and staff are being trained to provide support to more than 1,500 student-veterans on campus.
USF’s uniform and helmet for this week’s game were put on display during Tuesday’s weekly press conference on campus and junior receiver Andre Davis got a kick out of what’s to come on Saturday.
“It’s really nice. I like what they have going on and doing it for the veterans is most definitely a good thing,” Davis said.
Shaw Back to 100 Percent
Marcus Shaw returned to action Oct. 31 against Houston after missing nearly a month with a hamstring injury and Taggart says his senior back’s health has returned to 100 percent.
“He got a haircut and he’s ready to roll,” Taggart said with a smile. “He’s really ready to go into this last part of the season and try to enjoy these last four ballgames. He wants them to be the best four ballgames he’s had.”
Shaw carried the ball 18 times for 34 yards in USF’s Halloween night matchup with Houston and did a ton of damage before exiting in the second quarter against Cincinnati. The Arcadia, Fla., native has posted three 100-yard games before halftime and currently leads the American Athletic Conference with 97.7 yards per game (30th in the FBS).
“I’ve been watching Shaw and he looks like he’s going to be 100 percent. I see him running full speed and making cuts like he usually does,” sophomore cornerback Kenneth Durden said.
Young Coaches Face Off
USF-Memphis will feature a showdown between two of the youngest coaches in the nation.
Taggart is the second-youngest coach in the BCS and the fifth-youngest in the FBS with Memphis’ Justin Fuente next on the list. Both coaches are 37 years old and Taggart is one month younger than Fuente.
The youngest coach in the FBS is Western Michigan’s P.J. Fleck (32), followed by Toledo’s Matt Campbell (33), Texas Tech’s Kliff Kingsbury (34) and Arkansas State’s Bryan Harsin (36).
Groza Award Semifinalists Also Face Off
USF’s Marvin Kloss looks to extend his school record field goal streak Saturday while facing off against fellow Lou Groza Award semifinalist Jake Elliot.
Kloss, a redshirt junior from Naples, Fla., has made his past 13 field goal attempts and also owns the USF record for 50-plus yard field goals made with four. Kloss is tied for 13th nationally in field goal percentage (.929) and ranks 14th in field goals made per game (1.6).
Elliot is one of four freshmen who made the semifinal list after connecting on his first 11 field goal attempts of the season. Elliot ranks 16th nationally in field goal percentage (.917) and 27th in field goals made per game (1.4).
USF owns a 3-2 lead in its all-time series with Memphis after defeating the Tigers, 41-14, in the MagicJack St. Petersburg Bowl in 2008. Former USF quarterback Matt Grothe became the Big East’s career leader in total offense in the victory while throwing for three touchdowns and rushing for 83 yards.