TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Willie Taggart is still looking for his first victory at South Florida, however the second-youngest coach in a BCS conference insists he's not discouraged by his team's 0-2 start.
Nor is he assuming anything with struggling Florida Atlantic coming to town Saturday night.
The Bulls dropped their first two games of the season by a total of 47 points. The most surprising part of that is Football Championship Subdivision member McNeese State came into Tampa and handled them a lot easier than Michigan State of the powerful Big Ten did in USF's road opener.
Turnovers undermined the Bulls in both losses, supporting Taggart's belief that his young team will finally enjoy some success when players begin expecting good things to happen.
"We can't help other teams beat us," the 37-year-old coach said. "That's what we're doing right now."
Despite throwing going 6 of 26 for 66 yards, no touchdowns and one interception during last week's 21-6 loss at Michigan State, senior quarterback Bobby Eveld will make his second start of the season against FAU (0-2), another program trying to rebound after falling on hard times.
The Owls were trounced by four touchdowns in their season opener at Miami, then stumbled 31-13 at East Carolina in FAU's debut as a member of Conference USA. Overall, they've lost 11 of 14 games under second-year coach Carl Pelini.
"They're a work in progress, kind of like we are, too," Taggart said.
Like USF, FAU is still trying to determine who's best-suited to run a struggling offense.
Pelini rotated Jaquez Johnson and Greg Hankerson at quarterback in FAU's first two games, and neither had much success. Miami limited the Owls to a pair of field goals, and East Carolina kept them out of the end zone Hankerson threw a 2-yard TD pass to William Dukes to finish a 64-yard scoring drive with just over a minute remaining last week.
Matt Floyd won USF's starting job in August, but was benched during the season-opening 53-21 loss to McNeese State. The Eveld-led Bulls were held to two field goals at Michigan State, and Taggart is already being queried about how close sophomore Steven Bench is to being ready to play.