TAMPA, Fla. —- The wheels on the bus are supposed go around and around, the wheels are not supposed to go flat, the lug nuts are not supposed be loose and the wheels are not supposed to wobble.
The bus driver is supposed to be experience, know the route and the passengers that are riding the bus are confident in the ability of the bus driver.
The University of South Florida football coach Willie Taggart, is defensively driving the Bulls’ bus weaving to miss the pot holes, the trees and just doing his best to keep the bus under control.
Saturday night Taggart and the Bulls chaperoned Florida Atlantic University around and showing the Owls a good time and the best part of Raymond James Stadium-the end zone.
The Owls left Tampa after defeating the Bulls 28-10, with their first victory of the season neatly packed and stowed away on the Owls’ bus.
“You know our players, they just keep on working. They just keep getting better,” Florida Atlantic University football coach Carl Pelini said about his team’s effort after the game. “It was not perfect, we made some mistakes on both sides of the ball but our defense played awfully well. We’re better week two, we’re better week three and you know it’s a team win.”
At the end of the first quarter, it looked like the Bulls were going to find plenty of gold at the end of ride but the bus started to swerved out of control and straight into a crash and burn.
The Bulls offense struggled with too many mistakes like fumbles and interceptions, poor quarterback play that forced Taggart to void the ticket held by starting quarterback Bobby Eveld early in the game.
“Offensively we just continue to turn the ball over. I’ve never been apart of something like that!,” Taggart said. “Not only are we turning the ball over but we’re turning it over for points.”
Eveld dropped backed and step into the pocket for a pass but brushed up against Bulls running’s Marcus Shaw only to have the ball pop out and bounce on the ground and like waiting to transfer to another bus, Owls’ defensive end Cory Henry picked up the ball, like he found loose change on his seat and scored on a 10-yard run to the end zone.
“Just scoop and score,” Henry said about scoring his first career touchdown.
“We’re turning the ball over and it’s killing us,” Taggart said. “That’s a killer! It’s a moral killer!. One thing that we can’t have now on our team is a moral killer.”
After Eveld found his seat on the bus, Taggart latterly looked down at the bench and replaced Eveld with Steven Bench who is a transfer from Penn State University and is the third quarterback of the season for the Bulls to play.
Bench led the Bulls down the field on his first drive of the night, getting place kicker Marvin Kloss an opportunity for a 50-yard field goal-that he converted.
It started to look like that the bus had hit a straight-a-way and it looked like the bus started to gain speed.
Bulls’ senior linebacker DeDe Lattimore showed his improved leadership skills by intercepting an FAU quarterback Jaquez Johnson pass attempt at the 27-yard line giving Bench and the offense excellent field position an a opportunity.
Bench seized the chance and push the pedal all the way to the floor and on a third down with eight yards to go for a first down, Bench found Bulls’ fullback Ryan Epps alone in the middle waiting for a bus and after received the pass from Bench looked like a Greyhound and motor 25-yards for the score and the lead.
The bus started to fell like a Cadillac!
But hold on!
The ride is starting to become interesting!
In the second quarter, The Bulls with an opportunity for a score, the offense started the most impressive drive of the season, the Bulls started the trip 76-yards from the end zone but the offense could only travel 75-yards.
The ball resting on the one yard line, third down Bench handed the ball off to Shaw, he failed to cross the goal line and the ball was placed back down on the turf one yard away from the end zone.
Shaw, Bench and the rest of the offense felling like momentum was on their side of the line of scrimmage looked at Taggart and pleaded to try to get the score.
Taggart nodded his approval and the offense huddled and came to the line of scrimmage with the perfect play.
Everything for the Bulls was ready and in place for the fourth and goal play.
The ball was snapped, Shaw started the sweep to the left it looked good and suddenly Shaw stopped what looked like a fraction of a second but it felt like an hour in a traffic jam.
Suddenly there was the skid, all of the wheels came off of the bus and the sound of Owls’ linebacker Randell Johnson crushing Shaw for a six yard loss.
The Bulls turned the ball over, momentum switch jersey and the Bulls never could recovered.
Bench joined the fraternity of quarterbacks that play for the Bulls by being intercepted and watching it go the other way for a touchdown.
With 3:12 left in the game Owls’ defensive back D’Joun Smith stepped in front of Bench’s pass atempt returned it back 75-yards for the last touchdown of the night.
“Thanks to my team mate (Damien) Parms, he helped me up,” Smith said about his interception. “I was falling and he kept me up and I gained my balance.”
After three games the Bulls quarterback have turn the ball over five times that have led into touchdowns.
The Bulls have an off weekend and it will give Taggart some needed time to review the game tapes of the first three games of the season, rest some players and get ready for the next game.
The next game on the schedule is against Miami University, September 28, 2013 at home in the spacious Raymond James Stadium, the game is slated to start at 7 p.m.
All aboard and find a seat on the bus because the rest of the trip is still down the road.
About the Author
Written by Mel Suiter
Graduated from Eastern Michigan University in 2002 and have been working as a beat writer for The Ypsilanti Courier covering Eastern Michigan University football and men's basketball during my school career and after graduation. I like the Mid-American Conference and the rest of the mid-major conferences.