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Year in Review: At dark moment, USF’s Bulls started turnaround season

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Willie Taggart was in trouble. His team had lost three out of four, and his freshman quarterback was playing like a freshman, and he didn’t need anyone to tell him that his seat was growing warmer.

It didn’t matter that one of the losses had been to FSU from the ACC, and one of them to Maryland from the Big 10. The third loss had been a 17-10 loss to a strong Memphis team. USF had lost for years, through Skip Holtz and now Taggart, and the fans were growing restless.

And then it happened.

Six wins in seven weeks. Syracuse. UConn. SMU. Temple. Cincinnati. Rival UCF.

Suddenly, a program was reborn. Instead of looking young, the Bulls looked fresh. Instead of looking like tomorrow’s team, the Bulls looked like today’s. It culminated in the team’s first bowl trip (a 45-35 loss to Western Kentucky in the Miami Beach Bowl) in five years.

Let’s face it. The Bulls are one of several AAC teams to have new life. There are Memphis and Temple and Houston and Navy. But USF, with Quinton Flowers returning at quarterback, with Marlon Mack at running back, with Rodney Adams at receiver, seems ready to join the fray.

And Taggart? He has a new contract extension. He’s got a chance to watch his youngsters grow.

Next year won’t be easy. The Bulls travel to Memphis and Temple and Cincinnati. FSU and Navy come to Tampa.

But the Bulls have their legs now. They have an identity.

Sadly, they have to wait nine months to play.

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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