The 2016 college football season is finally here and Bulls are eager to improve on their previous season, yet again.
While the team may be excited to start the season on Saturday against the Towson Tigers, the Bulls understand that expectations are high after making their first bowl appearance in five years.
“We want to make it a special season, that’s all we talked about, making it better than we were last year,” said Coach Willie Taggart. “From a confidence standpoint, I know our guys are confident and they can go out and win ball games.
"I think we’ve created a culture here now, that kind of what we do. We go out there and expect to win, not hope that we win. Our guys go out expecting to win ball games and I think that came with time. It’s the whole building process of creating a culture of winning in everything you do.”
One of the points of success for the Bulls’ season last year was implementing the Bull Shark defensive scheme. After defensive coordinator Tom Allen left USF after one season for the same position at Indiana University, many wondered if a new coordinator would scrap the scheme for a new system.
The hiring of Raymond Woodie to the position quelled any fears and seems to have made a seamless transition into the program.
“I’m so jacked up to really see him go to work,” said Taggart about seeing Woodie’s defense. “I know he’s excited, that he has been working hard and waiting on this moment and now it’s here.
"I’m excited like everyone else. I want to see how this goes and I know the guys are ready to go for him as well.”
Taggart isn’t the only one ready to see the Bull’s hard work come to fruition. Leading the Bulls defense on the field will be linebacker and team captain, Auggie Sanchez.
Sanchez return after racking up 117 tackles last season, second most in team history, and returns as the top tackler in the American Athletic Conference.
“Just the idea of going back and you’re not hitting your teammates anymore,” said Sanchez. "You get to go out there and feel the lights and just kind of feel what college football is like... Our fan fest was tremendous. There was a much greater turnout; once you starting wing I think more people will be there.”
The Bulls will implement the Gulf Coast Offense behind junior quarterback, Quinton Flowers, for the second straight year, expecting to see a potent offense that saw the Bulls average 542 yards and 47 point per game, during the last four games of the season.
Once comfortable with the system and turned loose by Taggart, Flowers finished the season with 2,296 passing yards and 991 rushing, coming up with 34 total touchdowns. Flowers’ was rewarded for his success on the field and work ethic with teammates, with the title of captain.
“It’s very important. Everybody is going to watch you first game and last game,” said Flowers about the season opener against Towson. “I tell these guys every day, play every play like its your last.
"Everybody we play is a big game for us. We’re not doubting anyone, we’re not putting noting past anyone. Whoever we’re in front of us, that’s who we’ve got to play and that’s who we have to beat.”
Towson finished its season with a 7-4 record, losing to the only FBS opponent on their schedule, East Carolina University, 28-20.
Oregon transfer, redshirt sophomore Morgan Mahalak, will be behind center for Towson in the season opener. Head coach Rob Ambrose made the announcement that Mahalak beat out fellow redshirt sophomore Ellis Knudson and senior Heath Dahlgren.
Towson will be returning senior running back Darius Victor, who rushed for 1,021 yards on 207 attempts and 15 touchdowns in 2015. Victor racked up four 100-yard games, including a 137 yard game against East Carolina and 207 yards against Holy Cross.
Towson is 43-41 under Ambrose in seven seasons as head coach and the team has gone 1-9 against FBS opponents since 2008.null