TAMPA, Fla. — He was just whistling while he worked!
University of South Florida football coach Willie Taggart is putting the final touches on the Bulls Express Line and getting the bus in tip-top shape before it starts on the route of the 2014 schedule.
“Oh hey Uncle Mel!” as Taggart greeted his old buddy and pal, “What do you think?”
“The bus is all pretty and shiny and oh my Uncle Mel, we are all going on a fantastic trip this season!” Taggart said with a big grin.
“But what about last season,” Uncle Mel asked.
“Forget about it!” Taggart said cutting off Uncle Mel in mid-sentence and with a wave of his hand. “Can’t live in the present if you are standing around worrying about the past Uncle Mel.”
Last season the bus ride with the Bulls, well it was just not a smooth ride.
There plenty of bumps in the road that turned out to be potholes and the journey became a long winding road for Taggart and the Bulls.
Stops along the way that just did not need to be, and by the end of the route there were plenty of seats available for riders but few pay the price of a ticket.
There were five different conductors directing traffic and trying to manage the bus full of riders.
Taggart told Uncle not to worry about getting to or finding a seat because there is always room on the bus for Uncle Mel.
Taggart started to sing and asked Uncle Mel to join in and then he started to sing the praises of his new conductor on board the bus.
Nieces and nephews this years ride with the Bulls according to Taggart is in the capable hands of the conductor Mike White and the defense.
Uncle Mel thoughts are this for the Bulls.
This season for a successful trip for the Bulls, there can not be 16 interceptions, five that were returned for touchdowns and there can not be miss tackles or bad judgment that results into penalties and prolong drives for the opposition.
White steps aboard the bus with plenty of confidence and with the knowledge of the offense philosophy.
“It’s pretty cool, I’m ready and I’m up for the challenge,” White said about being named the starting quarterback for the Bulls.
Last season, White took charge of the offense six times and he threw the ball 175 times and completed 93 passes for 1,083 yards. He also threw nine interceptions and only threw three touchdown passes for the Bulls.
Taggart worked hard in the garage over the off season, looking for ways to improve his performance of his bus.
He took a look at the defense and decided to overhaul the defense, looking to take advantage of speed and agility, he dismantled the old 4-3 defense and he replaced it with a 3-4 look.
Well it sure looks good in practice but in game situation, well let just say Uncle Mel and Taggart will just have to wait a see the results.
University of South Florida Assisted Coach Raymond Woodie said it is about working with players that you have and overcoming adversity.
“Just losing a lot of guys up front and looking at the personnel, coach Taggart and Defensive Coordinator Chuck Bresnahan spent some time talking about the 3-4” Woodie said. “We just wanted to fit our personnel. It’s not about what you do; it’s about the guys that fit the scheme.”
This year the journey starts Saturday night August 30,within the city limits of Tampa, at the home of the University of South Florida, Raymond James Stadium beginning at 7 p.m. against Western Carolina University.
The Catamounts will be looking to do what McNeese State University did to the Bulls. Leave Tampa and Raymond James Stadium with the programs biggest victory in the program’s history.
Western Carolina University football coach Mark Speir had to suspend five players from his team for violating team’s academic standards.
“Last year, we initiated more rigid standards of attendance, punctuality and behavior as it is related to our Academic Enhancement Program, which includes tutor sessions, study hall and classes. Unfortunately, some of our student-athletes did not take this seriously and they are now facing the consequences,” Western Carolina University Director of Athletics Randy Eaton said. “I want to make sure the young people within our Athletic department understand the meaning of ‘student-athlete’ even if it is a difficult lesson for some of them.”
Staying home and missing the 2014 season opener, defensive back Bryson Jordan, defensive linemen Fred Mooring and Tahjai Watt and wide receivers Seth Curtis and Karmorris Benson will be serving there suspension.
There is always plenty of excitement with the first game of the season, so many questions to be answered but sometimes though the first game produces more questions.
Taggart is right about last season, it is ancient history and the bus can only improve with moving forward.
As riders purchase there tickets to get on board the bus and looking for a good seat, Taggart is hoping that this year’s bus ride will be a magical trip and not one to be forgotten quickly.
Bulls fans are hoping that all of Taggart’s hard work during the off season will have them all whistling a new tune.
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.