Tampa- Willie Taggart and his staff understand the challenge that they have in front of them heading into the 2013 season.
The Bulls are going to be without their starting quarterback from the previous three seasons as well as their top two running backs.
That's just the offense though. On defense USF is losing three anchors on that side of the ball in Cory Grissom, Sam Barrington, and Kayvon Webster. Despite losing key parts of the team, Coach Taggart was fairly optimistic after his team's performance over the last few weeks.
"We threw a lot at our guys, and they picked it up fairly quickly. They started off slow, but once we got around practice nine and ten you started to see the guys come together," he said.
One of the new things, other than an entirely new offensive scheme, that this coaching staff implemented, was a different Spring Game format. Taggart said he had something specific in mind that he wanted to accomplish in playing the game that way.
"One thing I was looking to get out of that game, with the team divided up, was still being able to execute," he said. "And our guys were able to do that which was impressive. I said before, you just never know when you need one of those guys to step up during the year."
We've been talking about how great the defensive line looks on this team, and when asked what position he felt most comfortable with, Taggart mentioned that unit.
"We have some depth there and it gives us a big chance," he raved. "I think anyone would love having a talented D-line like we have."
Another thing that Coach Taggart was pleased with was the fact that his team is buying into what he and his staff are selling.
"At the end of the day I think our guys have a good idea of what were looking for. It gives them a chance this summer to really work on their craft," Taggart explained.
While that may be the case, the reality to this program after spring is that some of the impactful contributors that will be relied on next season haven't stepped foot on campus yet.
"All of them (newcomers) are going to get the opportunity," Taggart said. "Our guys here had the first dibs to show us what they can do. Now our recruits are going to get an opportunity to come in and compete. We're going to need some of those guys to come help us."
At the press conference before spring started, it was mentioned that Chris Dunkley, Bradley Battles, and Terrence Mitchell were all suspended. The trio has not yet been reinstated, but there is still a chance they are before fall.
"You need three things to be apart of this football team; good grades, good football player, and good character," Taggart said. "We need to make sure all three of those guys have at least two before they're considered."
Through it all, USF's new leader has been optimistic about where the program is heading. He realizes that in order to get fans to show up at Raymond James Stadium every Saturday, his team needs to, as he says, "Do Something."
"We want to better than we were the year before…we want to win the conference…and we want go to a bowl game."
Those were the three goals that USF Head football coach Willie Taggart set for his team going into the 2013 season. We will all find out in the coming months whether or not the team achieves those marks, but what we do know for sure is that a newer, stronger, and exciting era has begun in Tampa.
Josh Appel is the Senior Writer for RunningtheBulls.com. He is a student broadcaster at the University of South Florida. You can contact him at Josh@RunningtheBulls.com. Follow Josh on Twitter at @JoshAppel.