With the season halfway complete for South Florida (2-4, 1-1), the sense of urgency to put everything together and finish games could be felt from players and coaches as the Bulls prepare for Saturday’s road meeting with new conference opponent Tulsa (1-5, 1-1).
This desire to close out games and complete victories was emphasized by QB Mike White, who stood in front of the media Tuesday afternoon.
"This game is definitely a must win. Everything has to start now if we want a shot at making a bowl game and a shot at winning the conference."
Indeed, for the Bulls to accomplish this, they must learn to shake off what Coach Taggart describes as “mental fatigue” and begin to execute better in the 2nd half.
"We've shown improvement in putting ourselves in positions to win,” Taggart exclaimed Tuesday, “Now we have to learn how to finish. The most important thing for a player to have to accomplish big things is belief.”
The Bulls will surely get that opportunity when they travel this weekend. The Golden Hurricane are new to the American Athletic Conference this season and similar to USF, they have had several young, inexperienced players making their first starts over the past two seasons under Bill Blankenship.
Just this season alone, fifteen players have made their very first start at a collegiate level for Tulsa. This lack of experience would explain the Golden Hurricane’s several struggles early on this season. Offensively, Tulsa has been ineffective as they’ve only been able to generate 23.5 points per contest with QB Dane Evans.
Defensively, the Golden Hurricane have given up a whopping 41.2 points per game to opponents, landing them 3rd to last in the entire FBS. Games have gotten out of hand for Tulsa so far, as their schedule includes blowout losses to Oklahoma, Florida Atlantic, and Colorado State.
Yet, a key element to this contest is the fact that USF scores most of its points in the first quarter and least in the fourth, while Tulsa has been a team to put up the majority of their points in the 4th, even forcing two overtime games this season.
If the Bulls want to reverse their 2nd half woes, they cannot fall asleep at the wheel after halftime and allow the duo of Dane Evans and WR Keevan Lucas to surge late. Willie Taggart’s group must continue to put points on the board in the 4th quarter to secure their 3rd victory of the season.
The contest will kick off at noon ET/11 CT on ESPNEWS.