"I think the "U" is back," Taggart said. "Coach (Al) Golden has their football team playing like, growing up here in Florida and what we're all accustomed to the University Of Miami playing the way they play."
The Miami Hurricanes, who enter the week ranked the No. 15 team in the nation, provide South Florida's offense, which ranks in the lower tier in total offense in the FBS at No. 121, a stellar defense that ranks fourth nationally in both pass efficiency and red zone defense.
For the Hurricanes, junior linebacker Denzel Perryman leads the defense with 20 tackles. Perryman has started 14 of his 24 games he's played in, recording 153 career tackles and 12.5 TFL. Along the defensive line, a former blue-chip and five star recruit from nearby Tampa (Fla.) Alonso High will be returning home, Anthony Chickillo.
Chickillo, who's started all but three games since he's thrown on the Hurricane No. 71 since he's arrived in Coral Gables, leads the Al Golden's defense with two sacks and has recorded 11 of them so far in his career.
"Growing up in the area, you'd watch them (USF) and they were always on TV," Chickillo told the Miami Herald.
There are four things you need to know about the "U" defense. The Hurricanes have allowed only three touchdowns and field goals in 2013. On top of that, Al Golden's squad has only allowed just 22 points all year. A stat that could haunt the Bulls on Saturday is Miami's turnover margin. The hurricanes lead the nation in turnover margin with an average of 2.7 per game.
The defense will lead the Hurricanes throughout the 2013 season, but don't think for a minute the offense will dissatisfy.
Making players miss with the pigskin on offense for Miami will be sophomore running back, Duke Johnson. Johnson, a 5-foot-9, 196-pound workhorse, leads the Hurricanes on offense with 305 yards rushing and three touchdowns. On top of Johnson's staggering efforts on offense, Duke also has 151 return yards so far in 2013.
Johnson is the only player in Miami history with at least three kickoff returns of 95 yards or more in his career and is tied for 11th nationally in all-purpose yards per game (168.33), which is second-most in the ACC.
Coach Willie Taggart had high praise for the sophomore from Miami (Fla.) Norland High School.
"The running back they have, Duke Johnson, he's a talent," Taggart said. "He's going to be one of the better backs in the country, he's really good."
An under-the-radar guy on the offensive side of the ball for the Hurricanes in 2013 has been junior tight end, Clive Walford. Seventeen of the last 18 balls Walford has snagged have resulted in either a Hurricane first down or touchdown. So far in 2013, Walford has caught balls when they've counted.
In the first three games, Walford has caught seven passes. Five of them have resulted in a first down, one resulted in a score and the other one was a gain of eight yards. In the first 20 games of Walford's career, Walford recorded 320 yards and two touchdowns. Since then, the tight end has racked up 411 yards and five touchdowns in his last seven games. He's a guy who I'd definitely keep an eye on.
Tossing the rock on offense will be senior Miami native, Stephen Morris. Morris has thrown for 404 yards on 75.0 percent passing through the first three games in 2013, while adding three touchdowns and two interceptions. The local product has experience behind center, starting all but six games since he's seen the field in Coral Gables. In his career, the senior has thrown for 5,272 yards, 31 touchdowns and 20 interceptions.
A matchup that I'm looking forward on Saturday is the Aaron Lynch and Seantrel Henderson square-off. Both players came into college with high accolades, especially Miami's offensive tackle Henderson. Henderson was ranked the number overall recruit by Fox Sports Next in 2010 and has fallen short of his expectations so far.
Starting off the 2013 season on the losing end of the first three games, coach Willie Taggart has his troops ready for a battle on Saturday and won't let a single thing get in his team's way.
"We'll be ready," Taggart said. "The Bay Area is built for hurricanes. We'll be ready and we're not going to bow down to them, that's for sure. We're going to come ready to play and we'll see where it takes us."