The Cowboys of McNeese State invaded Tampa Bay Saturday night and embarrassed the Bulls in front of their home crowd with a score of 53-21. The attendance of 35,470 is significantly down from their attendance of 41,285 in their home opener in 2012. Junior tight end Nic Jacobs led the way for the Cowboys with 122 yards on 5 catches while adding two touchdowns. The Bulls had no answer for the former LSU Tiger tight end.
The game started with a few bright spots for the Bulls. Senior running back Marcus Shaw broke loose on USF's 20 yard line and took it the distance for a 80 yard Bulls touchdown matching the second longest run in USF history. Shaw capped off the night with 145 yards on just 14 attempts, adding a touchdown.
Shortly after Shaw's electrifying long run, the landslide slowly left the starting blocks for Coach Taggart on their next possession.
David Burdetsky's snap cruised over Mattias Ciabatti's head on USF's first punt attempt, resulting with Ciabatti kicking it through the end zone for a safety. The safety wasn't the only headache on the night for their special teams though. Ciabatti averaged just 32.7 yards a punt and kicker Marvin Kloss missed from 43 yards out.
With the thought of being stable at quarterback with Sophomore Matt Floyd, you might have to think again. Floyd was not productive under Taggart against McNeese State, simple as that. Floyd completed just 7 of his 20 pass attempts for 72 yards, accumulating two interceptions and zero touchdowns. One of those interceptions resulted with a 78 yard touchdown return for the Cowboys with just under 20 seconds left in the first half.
As the Bulls jogged into the locker room for halftime, the boos were loud and clear throughout Raymond James Stadium with USF trailing 33-7.
Shortly into the 3rd quarter, Matt Floyd was relieved from his duties by Senior Bobby Eveld, who finished off the game 10-20 for 137 yards and two touchdowns. Junior Stephen Bravo-Brown was on the receiving end of one Eveld's throws, scoring his first collegiate touchdown from 59 yards out. Bulls star receiver Andre Davis accounted for the other receiving touchdown for 7 yards early in the 4th quarter.
After a significantly better performance than Floyd, Coach Taggart wasn't quite ready to name Eveld the starter for next week against Michigan State.
"We're going to evaluate that film and see going into next week," Taggart said. "Bobby came in and did a good job for us."
The Bulls allowed a total of 424 yards of offense against the Cowboys and surrendered the ball 3 times to McNeese State with two interceptions and one fumble on Saturday night.
The 32 point loss is the largest deficit by a major I-A to a I-AA school in NCAA history dating back to 1978. Throwing in the embarrassing loss on Saturday, the Bulls are now 23-1 against I-AA opponents.
"First, I'd like to apologize to Bulls nation for that performance," Taggart said. "That was awful. It was just a piss-poor effort."
With no sacks recorded and their passing attack mediocre against McNeese State, the Bulls will have to improve every facet of their football team to compete in upcoming weeks.
Next Saturday, the Bulls will head north to East Lansing, MI to take on Michigan State in a 12 PM square off. We'll see if the bus can cruise out of the bus garage in week 2. This time against the Big Ten, not a I-AA team.