TAMPA, Fla. — There is a flicker of hope!
Not all is lost for the University of South Florida offense and their first year football coach Willie Taggart.
The Bulls’ offense is struggling but there is one player that is developing into a playmaker for Taggart, in spite of the poor contribution from the quarterbacks and by the offensive line.
Marcus Shaw, is running hard, he is the only bright spot for the offense, he has carried the ball 56 times this year for 394 yards and that is good enough for sixth in the entire NCAA.
Shaw is turning the head of opposing coaches and forcing defensive coordinators to come up with a game plan to contain him at the line of scrimmage.
Michigan State University football coach Mark Dantonio and defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi both said after the Spartans defeated the Bulls 21-6, September 7, 2013, they had to make adjustments and count for Shaw.
“They’re a good run offense,” Narduzzi said. “They’re well coached and do some things offensively.”
Shaw carried the ball 23 times for 94 yards against the Spartans.
“We negated their passing game,” Dantonio said about Shaw’s ability to run with the ball. ”We negated their running game for the most part, they got some sprint draw on us.”
The first play of the 2013 football season will always be a part of history, Shaw’s accomplishment against McNeese State University will be told forever on campus, the locker room at the Frank Morsani Football Practice Complex and across the state of Florida.
Imagine if you will, you are stepping onto the manicured green grass inside Raymond James Stadium with 35,470 pairs of eyes watching. You look to the right and then to the left, you hear team mates talking and yelling, you hear the noise of the crowd finally and then you hear the quarterback yelling out signals.
The football is snapped to the quarterback, he spins and hands the ball off to you and it looks as smooth as silk. Suddenly the sea of humanity parts, you run through the middle and what seemed to be an eternity, is a 80-yard sprint to the end zone for the first touchdown of the brand new season.
That is exactly what Shaw did against McNeese State University opening night!
Taggart said after the Bulls lost to Florida Atlantic University 28-10 ,at home that the Bulls need to do two things to balance the ship.
The first thing that the Bulls have to do is eliminate turning the ball over, especially for touchdowns. Second, Taggart said, is that his coaching staff and himself will be looking for playmakers.
At running back the Bulls have a playmaker!
Right from the start of the 2013 football season, Shaw believes in the coaching philosophy of Taggart and more important is that Shaw also respects Taggart and the game of football.
“I think Marcus knows that it is senior year, this is the year to put up or shut up,” Bulls running coach Telly Lockette said about Shaw before the season started. “His career here has been up and down but he is buying what coach Taggart is trying to get across to the seniors. He is buying into the whole deal, trying to step up and be a leader.”
Before a practice, sitting and then Shaw looking at a picture of Taggart from his playing days at Western Kentucky University.
“There’s the man right there,” Shaw said
Taggart is the man in charge but running the ball for the Bulls is Shaw and he is now the man.
Shaw and his team mates will use this bye week to get some much needed rest before getting prepared for the next game which is scheduled for, Saturday, September 28, 2013 against the No. 16 Associated Press ranked team in the nation the Hurricanes from Miami University.
The game will be played at home for the Bulls at the magnificent Raymond James Stadium and is scheduled to start at noon.
Taggart and the Bulls are hoping that the flicker of hope does not turn into the flames of destruction against Miami University.
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.