Season Report Card: South Florida
After leading the Hilltoppers to two straight winning seasons in 2011-12, Taggart only managed to come away with two victories in his debut with USF.
It started with an embarrassing 32-point (!!!) loss to FCS McNeese State at home in the season opener and ended in blowout fashion on the road to a less-than-impressive Rutgers squad.
While the Bulls did show that they had some fight throughout the year—beating Cincinnati and nearly knocking off BCS bound Central Florida—they couldn’t keep up and finished as one of the most bottom-rung teams in the FBS.
Here’s South Florida’s season report card for 2013:
You can make the argument that South Florida owned the worst offense in all of college football this past season. It finished dead last in team passing efficiency and total first downs, had the 118th-ranked rushing attack, placed 120th in third down conversion rate (27.9 percent) and scored a whopping 13.8 points per game (No. 120 in FBS), including 6 or less in four contests. The four-man rotation of quarterbacks Mike White, Bobby Eveld, Steven Bench and Matt Floyd threw a total of seven touchdowns all season, while running backs combined for four. That’s 11 breaches of the end zone in 12 games.
South Florida’s defensive unit was worlds apart from the offense, so much that it’s literally the only reason the Bulls weren’t beat by four touchdowns every single week. Anchored by first-team All-AAC defensive end Aaron Lynch, the Bulls’ front seven held its own against the run (28th overall) and did a decent enough job of limiting big plays. You have to put an asterisk next to the defense’s 28.6 points allowed per game due to the poor positions it was put in time and time again from the offense’s incompetence.
Special Teams: C
For as poor of a kickoff return/coverage unit South Florida had, it made up for it with great plays off punts. Kicker Marvin Kloss hit 18-of-23 field goals attempts (it’s worth noting that he had eight more field goal tries than extra points), including a long of 52.
Taggart inherited a mess and did the best he could with the defense, but there’s no excuse for the way the offense (mainly the quarterbacks) performed—especially with a background of coaching QBs. There was never a time where the offense looked like it was progressing, and if anything, it regressed as time went on. Taggart’s offseason to-do list is pretty hefty, and the Bulls will need some significant signs of improvement this spring/summer if he wants to stay in Tampa for more than two years.
It all comes down to wins and losses, and South Florida didn’t fare very well in the former category. It lost by an average of 18.7 points per game—and being smacked around by an FCS program is completely unacceptable—but beating Cincinnati and staying competitive with Michigan State (lost 21-6) and Central Florida (lost 23-20) barely—and I mean by the slightest margin—kept the Bulls from receiving a failing grade.
Follow @Tyler_Waddell on Twitter