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March 8, 2014

USF wraps up first session of Spring with scrimmage

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BRADENTON- Willie Taggart couldn't have been more pleased after holding a two hour plus practice at his old high school.

Hoping to get his players around a winning environment, Taggart brought the Bulls to Manatee High's Hawkins Stadium.

It's a facility known for creating a lot of offensive fireworks going back to the days of Taggart and Tommie Frazier and Shevin Wiggins, the first person named Mr. Football in Florida.

The past success must have rubbed off on the Bulls offense and Taggart gave a lot of the credit to the new look offensive line, which is averaging 13 pounds more per man on its starting unit compared to last year.

Mike White, who shared the quarterback duties with Steven Bench and headed into spring drills as number one, said it felt great to have an offensive line that gives him adequate time to throw the ball.

Taggart lauded the running of Michael Pierre and said the senior is now the starter at tailback though his depth chart is ever fluid.

"On offense we are lot more disciplined. We have a lot of guys that are complete players and everybody is buying in to what we are doing," said senior center Austin Reiter, who will enter his third year as a starter. "We had a problem with penalties last year, but we only had three pre-snap penalties today in our first scrimmage. A big thing about being a veteran is that I have played so much I see what the defense is doing."

Pierre ran the ball with a lot of authority and the receivers helped both quarterbacks making catches in some heavy traffic often with defenders draped over them.

"Our football team is getting in and out of the huddle on time and we have been working on eliminating our pre-snap penalties," Taggart said. "Our quarterbacks had so much more time to throw the football and our offensive line has done a great job all spring with run blocking and pass blocking."

Taggart was pleased with his receivers. In particular he praised Andre Davis, transfer Rodney Adams, Chris Dunkley and Deonte Welch.

"Overall we are so much better because our guys know things and are more comfortable doing what we do," Taggart said. "We call a play and everyone knows where to be. Our offense has more energy. You don't get those big plays or the receiver making those big catches without everybody being on the same page."

It was also a homecoming of sorts for USF linebackers coach Raymond Woodie, who played and coached at Palmetto after being the head coach at Bayshore.

"We saw some improvement and mentally we want the guys to understand the task at hand," Woodie said. "Coach Taggart kept saying when you go to Manatee High you got to set the bar high because it's such a successful program and the kids gave it all they got. This was also an evaluation for them and they know it."



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