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USF can prove it still has its edge against South Carolina in bowl

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The USF Bulls will have to prove that former coach Willie Taggart didn’t take his edge with him in this year’s Birmingham Bowl.

Taggart, the primary play-caller for the Bulls, took the head coaching job at Oregon on Wednesday.

That leaves the Bulls playing against SEC opponent South Carolina, where head coach Will Muschamp is respected for his defensive prowess. Instead of Taggart, the team will play under interim coach T.J. Weist.

USF will still have offensive firepower with quarterback Quinton Flowers, the American Conference Player of the Year, and Marlon Mack. Still, it doesn’t help a team to lose its play-caller.

South Carolina ranked only 62nd in the nation in total defense in Muschamp’s first year. USF’s offense was ranked 10th in the nation. However, the Bulls’ defense ranked just No. 120. South Carolina was ranked No. 117 in offense.

For the Bulls, the game is a chance to show that success didn’t depart with Taggart. It’s a chance for Weist to officially throw his name in the hat. It’s a chance to compete with the big, bad SEC (even against a 6-6 team). It’s a chance for more one-play drives. It’s a chance to show that there is a bit of defense on this team. It’s a chance for Flowers and Mack and Rodney Adams to complete their highlight tapes. It’s a chance to remind Taggart what he’s leaving behind.

In other words, it’s another chance to play.

That’s enough.

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Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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