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After First Week of Fall Camp, Bulls Are Brimming With Confidence

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At less than three weeks from the season opener, USF is all abuzz with football fever. After the first week of fall practice there is some sort of energy, hope – dare I say, positivity – going around.

Brian Blanco

Coach Taggart says his goal is to get six wins and end the season playing in a bowl game for the first time in four years. He also says that he is singularly focused on winning the season opener against Western Carolina. That would be a good start, you know, avoiding a disgraceful loss to an FCS team. And it seems like that might happen.

We had some fun at practice on Friday. Collin got to try out the Polar Pod:

Despite the afternoon heat, full pads were worn on Friday and Saturday. There was some hard hitting, some hip-hop playing and seemingly good vibes all around. Much has remained the same since spring: Mike White is mostly practicing with the ones, Steven Bench is practicing with the twos, and both of them can drop back to hit receivers with pretty good vision. Of course the coaching staff insists that the position is still up for grabs. The announcement of (most likely White) as the starting QB should come after another week of practice.

The defense seems to be in control, although Taggart says that the offense is keeping up with them. "I think that our offense is really comfortable with each other . . . we’re probably more athletic defensively and that’s paying off for [the defense] right now. Sometimes when you’re more athletic you can get away with some things," he said. I’ll have to take his word for it. The offense doesn't look messy, but I definitely saw a lot more plays broken up or stuffed than I saw complete passes or carries up field.

Freshmen

The new recruits are here and were practicing separately earlier in the week. For the last three days they have been allowed to mix with the veteran players. Quinton Flowers shows good instincts so far: he has thrown some nice completions and scrambled for a 30-yard touchdown in full pads. His mistakes (like the occasional frozen rope interception) can be attributed to his inexperience.

Marlon Mack and D’Ernest Johnson have been taking turns running the ball and are described as "impressive" and "physical" by Taggart. They are showing some skills as blockers too, which is important to the Bulls’ even in the Bulls run-heavy offensive strategy.

Special Teams

Marvin Kloss (you know, the guy who scored all of our offensive points in last year’s only wins) still looks like a field goal machine. Mattias Ciabatti has been burying punts in the corner all week long, which will hopefully give returners a lot of trouble. According to all accounts Chris Dunkley will be returning kicks this fall with Hassan Childs and maybe even one of several freshman standouts.

With the new talent, the new coaches and the new Polar Pod, it feels like a new team. So, maybe I’m just drinking the Kool-Aid, but I think we might have a shot at that Miami Beach Bowl.