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Bulls Beat: Football team turns page with Taggart

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Published:   |   Updated: April 18, 2013 at 06:48 AM
TAMPA -

After any coaching change, there’s a honeymoon period for the new guy. Fans buzz with excitement and anticipation. Players talk about a different attitude, a turnaround.

It’s no different with University of South Florida football, which has completed spring drills with Willie Taggart.

The bravado does not seem false. There is an air of unmistakable confidence and direction.

“We’re going to win some more ballgames, that’s for sure,’’ Bulls senior QB Bobby Eveld said.

When spring drills began, Eveld didn’t see great things.

“We couldn’t move the ball at all,’’ Eveld said. “We were going three-and-out on every drive. But we made a ton of progress. I can see (how much better we’re going to be). It’s obvious.’’

USF football fans, of course, have heard this before. The program has a well-earned reputation of starting fast, then flaming out. Last season, the Bulls were picked second in the Big East Conference’s preseason poll before stumbling to 3-9.

“I can’t even say anything about last year because it has nothing to do with this year,’’ Bulls senior LB DeDe Lattimore said. “We’re not looking back, trying to explain. That’s gone.’’

And forgotten.

Junior WR Andre Davis said he noticed a change almost from the day Taggart was hired.

“Everything we do is competition,’’ Davis said. “There’s no laying back, no sitting back. We have a very talented team and we’re going to play like one. He knows the talent we have and he’s going to hold us to a high standard, not settle for anything. I love him for that.’’

Louisville should be an overwhelming favorite to capture USF’s renamed/retooled league – the American Athletic Conference – which includes the Bulls, Connecticut, Cincinnati, Rutgers, UCF, Houston, Memphis, SMU and Temple for 2013.

“It doesn’t matter where we’re picked,’’ Lattimore said. “We can’t just talk about it. We’ve got to show it.’’

Baseball still streaking Lelo Prado’s baseball team (23-14, 7-2 Big East Conference) advanced its winning streak to nine games – the program’s longest since a 14-game streak in 1996 – with Tuesday night’s 6-2, 13-inning victory at Stetson. Jimmy Falla drove in the go-ahead runs with a two-run double, while Kyle Teaf, who walked twice, reached base for the 31st consecutive game.

The Bulls travel to Connecticut (22-13, 8-4), just behind Big East frontrunners USF and Louisville, for a weekend three-game series. USF is ranked No. 28 in the Collegiate Baseball News top 30 poll.

A new home Women’s basketball player Andrea Smith, taken 35th overall in Monday night’s WNBA Draft by the Connecticut Sun, is headed to an interesting place. The Sun are coached by Anne Donovan, the Basketball Hall of Famer and two-time U.S. Olympic gold-medal winner. Among Smith’s backcourt competitors during training camp: ESPN analyst Kara Lawson, 32, the former Tennessee player. Lawson averaged 15.1 points last season for the Sun.

Bulls bits Taggart will speak Friday during a “Locker Room Lunch’’ from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at USF St. Petersburg’s University Student Center Ballroom. It’s an informal talk-show format with USF broadcaster Jim Louk, then questions will be taken from the audience. The lunch is free and open to the public, but space is limited. Make a reservation at www.usfsp.edu/lockerroom/. …Softball left-hander Sara Nevins captured her second consecutive Big East Pitcher of the Week award. In two games against Providence, Nevins allowed five hits in 11 shutout innings, while striking out 12. The Bulls (35-12, 13-1), ranked No. 24 in two national polls, travel to DePaul for a three-game weekend series. …Happy birthday to Seth Greenberg, USF men’s basketball coach from 1996-2003. Greenberg, now an ESPN analyst, is 57 today.


jjohnston@tampatrib.com

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Twitter: @JJohnstonTBO

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