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Football is Underway at USF

Today was the first day of football practice and the season's opening press conference. We learned the new name for USF's defense and Willie Taggart gave his pitch to fans to come to the games.

With the music cranked up and the sun beating down, the Bulls took to the field for their first fall practice. You learn virtually nothing from the first day of practice, but I can tell you that Quinton Flowers looked like the better quarterback, Evan Wilson looked liked the best receiver, and Marlon Mack is still the best running back.

At the opening press conference, Jamie Byrd and Auggie Sanchez talked about the defense, emphasizing that the players have a desire to succeed for each other. Sanchez (Mike linebacker) said that he is one of the leaders of the defense and he takes responsibility if the players don't align correctly. Byrd (Husky defensive back) also told us the defense has been calling itself the "Bull Shark" defense, which I assume is based on the "Land Shark" defense at Ole Miss (Defensive Coordinator Tom Allen's former school).

When asked about whether they feel they need to win for Coach Taggart's sake, both Sanchez and Byrd said that the players want to win for each other. "There's a sense of urgency to win," said Sanchez, "but not to save anybody's job."

Mack, Brynjar Gudmundsson and Rodney Adams also spoke to the press about the hurry-up-no-huddle offense. The team wants to get plays off in 10-15 seconds and catch defenders out of position and out of energy. They did that today, as the players all acknowledged that the offense won the scrimmage and the defenders were worn out.

Rodney Adams (wide receiver) downplayed the quarterback problem. "We don't have Mike White anymore, but we do have [Steven Bench and Quinton Flowers]. Both of them are acquainted with the offense." Adams also described himself as an unselfish leader of the receiving corps.

Gudmundsson (right guard) did quite a few snaps at center this morning, and may end up playing the position this fall. "They've moved me a lot during my career here, so I'm pretty used to it," he said. He has practiced the position in past years, but with Austin Reiter around there was no need for him to perform snaps on the field. "I definitely like to take pride in the fact that if they want to call on me to play another position, that I'll accept the challenge and learn it and play to the best of my ability," Gudmundsson said.

Coach Taggart came to the podium next and gave Collin some flak for his post-Spring Game article. "Who are you?" said Taggart. "I thought you were done with us!" Showing some mercy, he did allow Collin to remain in the room and ask some questions.

Taggart also spoke on the quarterback situation. "First, I just want a guy who can take care of the football. We can not give the ball away," he said. He also talked about a quarterback who can lead the team, play at a high level, and all of those other things you have heard before. "They're both capable of doing it; it's just a matter of doing it consistently." When does he want to name the quarterback? "Sooner rather than later."

When asked about the attendance problem at Raymond James, Taggart gave a pitch to fans. "I think you've got a bunch of guys that's ready to settle some scores this year. That's why you should go buy your ticket. You want to be there so that you can say, 'I was there when they turned it all around.' Don't be that guy that wasn't there, you're going to be ticked off. You'll be so mad. So be there and be loud and be part of that turn-around."