home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


July 29, 2014

Willie Taggart


THE MODERATOR:  Our next coach is going to be coach Willie Taggart from South Florida.  In his second year there.  Coach Taggart had extraordinary success at Western Kentucky.  His number was retired there, he was such an exceptional player and coach there.
COACH TAGGART:  Good morning.  It's a little different.  Usually when I get introduced, I get a little clap or something.  You're a little quiet (laughter).
Glad to be here and glad you all are here, being a part of our Media Days.
University of South Florida football program, I feel like our football team is right on schedule where we want it.  Last year wasn't what we all wanted it to be.  But for me personally, it was enjoyable.  It was enjoyable getting to know our guys.  It was enjoyable building the trust within our football program.  It was enjoyable exercising the demons we had to get through.
And now seeing our guys understanding the standards and the culture we want to build in our program, you watch them daily get better.  I'm excited about that.  In every aspect of our program which we want our guys to be exceptionally well in, they're doing it on the field, off the field, in the classroom.  Spring was good for our guys and recruiting was good for our football program.
The things we have needed to do in our off‑season, we done.  Looking forward to training camp to see our guys progress from all the things they done this off‑season.  Really excited where we're at.  Excited about our program.  Excited about our new athletic director, our leadership.  Excited about the season.

Q.  You mentioned recruiting.  By all accounts you had an exceptional recruiting year.  That creates expectations.  That can be both a blessing and a curse.  Talk about your recruiting class, who is coming in, what you realistically expect from them this year?
COACH TAGGART:  Our recruiting class, like you say, it was great for us.  We got the guys we wanted.  We feel like we helped our football program out tremendously with these guys.
Jaime are you there?
We have Quinton Flowers, a quarterback, that's really talented from Miami.  Tyre McCants from Niceville, really talented.  Ryeshene Bronson, a receiver, who we think going to be really special for us coming in that's going to help us.  Then we have some really, really good talented runningbacks.  Marlon Mack from Sarasota, we're excited for him to get out there.  De'Ernest Johnson.  Those two guys, we feel like they're going to have to play for us this year.  We're going to count on those guys to help us this season.
Some of those young receivers we have.  We're going to count on those guys to help us, as well.
On the defensive side of the ball, I felt like in recruiting we helped ourselves athletically.  I think our guys are probably more athletic this year than last year.  I'm sure we are.  With Brown at linebacker, Black at linebacker, Nick Holman, another linebacker for us, then you look at Kendall Sawyer at defensive back.  (Indiscernible) is another local kid in Tampa that we're excited about.
I look at the 28 guys we recruited, 12 of them come from the Bay Area.  That was big for us.  That was an emphasis we put on when we came to USF, saying we want to make sure we take care of the bay.  I felt like our coaches did a good job of doing that as well.

Q.  You talked about the first year.  Obviously the first year in a new program always presents challenges.  In terms of your goals for this year, your second season, what have you talked to your team about in terms of realistic goals?
COACH TAGGART:  Well, what we wanted to do first this off‑season is come together as a football team, become a closer football team.  That's something I felt like stood in our way last year, we wasn't as close as we needed to be in order to win games we needed to win.  That was a big emphasis off the field, is become closer, start to enjoy and care about each other, play for each other.
I see that with our guys hanging out a lot more.  Our guys are around our office more than they've ever been before.  That's great to see.  Their eagerness to learn football is off the charts right now, something we didn't have before.  Excited about that.
From a record standpoint, win as many games as we can.  Telling our guys, getting into a bowl game is a must for us in order to rebuild our program, get it to where we want it to be.
It's a process.  Each year brings challenges.  You don't build that program in one season.  You got to build it brick by brick.  There are no shortcuts.  We're not going to take any shortcuts.  We're going to continue to build it brick by brick, build something sustainable.  One year you're good, next year you're bad.  We want to build something that we can all be proud of in Tampa, build something that's going to be really special, make our program what we all know it can be.

Q.  How important is it to get off to a good start after last year?
COACH TAGGART:  It's very important.  I think back to last year, I think the way we started was a big factor in the way we ended the season.  The way the season went, you look at a program that had struggled for two seasons before we got here.  For us to go out and stub our toe against McNeese State was probably the worst thing that could have happened to a football team that's trying to get over the stigma of failure.  That was hard.
I think our football team pretty much overlooked McNeese State.  We wasn't one of those teams that could overlook anyone, and that was a big part of it for me.  I should have done a better job of focusing on those guys the first game.  I really felt like that set the tone for the rest of our season.  When we lost that game, we were down and out.  Our guys was just used to losing, used to being in that position.
It was hard to get them out of it, especially just overnight.  You're trying to build a trust and loyalty, get those guys to trust what we're saying.  You go out and lose that game, I don't know if that's going to work again.
This off‑season, that's all we've been focusing on is Western Carolina.  We don't let our guys talk about anybody else.  It's important how we start our season.  We got to go in and lock into Western Carolina and make sure we go out and have the best performance we can have to start the season off with.

Q.  I know those great Miami teams in the '80s, so many guys from Liberty City, they took a great deal of ownership in the program.  You're recruiting the Tampa area extensively.  How much are your guys starting to take ownership of that South Florida program, hoping to bring it up a little bit?
COACH TAGGART:  I think our guys take tremendous pride in our football program, understanding, again, what our standard is, what we want out of our program.
I think they understand it better now with us having a whole year here, knowing the expectations of what we're doing, what we want as a coaching staff.
I think a big part of it is keeping a lot of guys there in the Bay Area.  It means a little more to them just to represent their city.  We have a great city in Tampa, some really talented football players in that area.  We have a passionate fan base that loves winners.
It's important we get back to winning.  We know when we win they will come.  It's very important that we go out and get them something to support.  It's our job to earn that support.
I think they know what it is.  We can't all forget that we're still a young football program.  We're still building our tradition.  We've had a lot of success in our young program, which is exciting, lets us know we can do it.  It's just a matter of getting back to it, having a vision of playing to getting done what we need to get done.
What we ultimately want is a championship football team, doing things in a first‑class manner.  That's our approach every single day.
THE MODERATOR:  Coach, thank you very much.
COACH TAGGART:  You have a wonderful day.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297