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Wednesday, Oct 22, 2014
USF Bulls

USF Bulls’ Taggart sending early message

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TAMPA -

Do something.

It’s the mantra of Willie Taggart, the University of South Florida’s first-year head football coach. He first heard it from a buddy in high school and it clicked.

“That’s life, not just football,’’ he said.

It means always getting better and never being satisfied. It punctuates Taggart’s Twitter feed — #DoSomething — and occasionally he’ll get a nudge from his 6-year-old son.

Daddy, do something!

“That’s awesome,’’ Taggart said.

When Taggart’s Bulls begin spring workouts today, he’ll be watching to see who gets that message.

“You want something, you got to do something,’’ Taggart said. “You can’t sit back and wait for someone to do it for you. You don’t blame anyone for it not happening. All of us are able to go out and work. You get up every morning and have an opportunity.’’

Taggart, the former Western Kentucky University coach, was hired Dec. 8. He follows Skip Holtz, who was fired following a 3-9 season. For Taggart, it has largely been a blur of recruiting and public appearances.

“I feel like I’ve been here a year already and we haven’t played one down of football,’’ he said.

Beginning today, that will change.

Beginning today, Taggart implements his on-field priorities — accountability, toughness, no turnovers, playing smart.

Beginning today, the Bulls and a few coaches new to Taggart learn about the pace of a USF practice.

Taggart said he has heard discussion from players about what went wrong last season. But he said that’s irrelevant. “It’s what you do from this point on, since we came here,’’ he said. “Winning is in the details, and our guys have to learn to do the little things right.’’

Past performance has been studied, but the depth chart is a blank canvas.

“They’ve got to show us what they can do and that determines whether or not they’re going to be our starter,’’ Taggart said. “That’s on them. They’ve got to do something, go out and impress us. We’re not going to give you anything.

“Nobody has a job right now. And we’ve got to make them understand that (in the fall) their job can be taken away if they have a bad day. We’ve got 15 (spring) practices. We need 15 great practices.’’

It culminates April 13 with the spring game at Raymond James Stadium. The public gets another opportunity to watch during Saturday’s open practice, USF’s first workout in pads, from 2:30 to 5 p.m.

When Taggart released his spring football roster this week, some veteran names were missing, including wide receiver Terrence Mitchell, running back Bradley Battles and wide receiver Chris Dunkley. Taggart said those players were “suspended indefinitely’’ and could return later this spring if they meet certain criteria, which he didn’t specify.

“You’re not just going to be on this team any kind of way,’’ Taggart said. “I want mighty men. I’ve got to make sure they’re doing their part to be on this football team. They’ve got to do something.’’

Get used to the sound.


jjohnston@tampatrib.com

(813) 259-7353

Twitter: @JJohnstonTBO

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