TAMPA – University of South Florida senior RB Marcus Shaw, who had his third 100-yard rushing game this season on Saturday afternoon in a 49-21 loss against the No. 15-ranked Miami Hurricanes, continued to be the brightest spot of USF’s winless season.
Shaw rushed 20 times for 127 yards and one touchdown. He had a 44-yard run on the opening series, the fourth run of 40 yards or better this season. Overall, he has 525 yards (and a 6.8-yard average).
Shaw projects to a season total of 1,575 yards. USF’s single-season record is 1,374 yards by Andre Hall in 2005. USF’s rushing leader last season was Demetris Murray with 665 yards.
“He’s the most consistent (player) right now on the football team,’’ USF coach Willie Taggart said. “Now we’ve got to help him out. We’ve got to convert on third down (USF was 2-for-14 on third downs against UM). That’s what has really been killing us.’’
Shaw wants USF to win, but he’s happy with his individual improvement. Coming into the season, he had 391 yards rushing — for his career.
“I’m not frustrated,’’ Shaw said. “I just look at it as a blessing, because three years ago, I wasn’t even getting into the games. I’m just taking every chance and doing the best I get with it.’’
USF had four takeaways, its most since five in the season opener at Notre Dame on Sept. 3, 2011. It now has eight takeaways in four games, after generating nine all of last season.
The Bulls also have four interceptions in four games, doubling its output from all of last season.
One of the picks was by senior DE Julius Forte, who returned a batted pass 11 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Forte saluted his best friend, senior DE Ryne Giddins, whose mother recently died.
“I got lucky,’’ Forte said. “I had an angel out on the field today. Miss Sabrina (Giddins’ mother), she was out there on the field with me today and she saw fit that I had a pick today.’’
The Bulls started three true freshmen — G Dominique Threatt, OLB Nigel Harris (Hillsborough) and SS Nate Godwin (Freedom). Other true freshmen who played included DT Derrick Calloway, RB Darius Tice, DB Lamar Robbins and DB Johnny Ward.
“We’re going to continue to play freshmen,’’ Taggart said. “They’re learning. They didn’t have a spring, either. They’re only going to get better, and the freshmen have got all the confidence in the world because they haven’t been around.’’
It was embarrassing in the second quarter when USF was penalized for “failure to wear required equipment’’ on a kickoff return. Actually, it was because USF sent out two players wearing No. 36 (Godwin and Ryan Eppes), but UM declined the penalty. “It was the coach’s fault,’’ Taggart said. “A guy went down and (the incorrect player was substituted).’’ … It’s neck-and-neck. Opposing defenses have scored six touchdowns on USF through four games, while USF’s offense has produced six touchdowns of its own. … USF opens American Athletic Conference play next Saturday night at home against the Cincinnati Bearcats. USF is 3-7 overall against Cincinnati, losing six of the last seven meetings, and hasn’t beaten the Bearcats in Tampa since 2005. … Numerology: On the game’s opening possession, UM went 77 yards in seven plays. Dallas Crawford’s 7-yard run put the Hurricanes up 7-0. And, of course, UM was coming off last season’s 77-7 win against Savannah State. … It was USF’s seventh consecutive loss in a day game at Raymond James Stadium. The Bulls haven’t won in that circumstance since Nov. 21, 2009, when Jim Leavitt was head coach. … USF senior MLB DeDe Lattimore had a team-high nine tackles and two forced fumbles. … UM sophomore OLB/DE Tyriq McCord (Jefferson) had an interception.