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| SoFloBulls.com by Matthew Manuri |

USA Today| No. 92- South Florida | SoFloBulls.com Willie Taggart’s blueprint for South Florida places thumbtacks in the following counties: Collier, Hernando, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Miami-Dade and Sarasota. For today, tomorrow and for the foreseeable future, the Bulls’ projected rise – still coming, potentially – hinges on how effectively Taggart and his staff mine these rich Florida basins for the state’s overlooked-yet-underrated talent.

Because there’s plenty to go around, of course. Check out USF’s first full class under Taggart, for example, a 28-signee group with feet in each positional group on both sides of the ball – with extra emphasis on the offensive and defensive lines, the weakest links in the Bulls’ chain.

It wasn’t merely a consensus top-40 class nationally; that’s impressive enough, given how Taggart’s debut ended with the first double-digit-loss season in program history. It doubled as the best class in the American Athletic Conference, threatened only by Louisville and Rutgers, two program soon set for greener pastures.

Here’s why this matters: Only six of South Florida’s 28 recruits held offers from one of the state’s top dogs – Miami (Fla.), Florida and Florida State. Again, there’s plenty to go around.

COUNTDOWN: Complete list (so far)

So that’s the Taggart-approved blueprint, and it’s easy to see it succeed in the fluctuating and unpredictable American. But it needs coaching; it needs leadership, conviction and a sense of identity, and it definitely needs a quarterback.

LAST YEAR’S PREDICTION:

I would wager – as I’m predicting, per this ranking – that USF doesn’t get above five wins, but to say that the Bulls don’t have what it takes to reach six wins ignores the level of talent and athleticism on this roster. Above all else, USF now has a coach capable of supplying the consistency USF has lacked for the better part of a decade. I think the schedule plays a role in keeping the Bulls outside the postseason, but the future is bright.

2013 RECAP:

In a nutshell: Call it a lost season, if you must, but if not addressed, the issues that plagued the Bulls last fall could linger into 2014 and beyond. One was some of the worst quarterback play humanly imaginable: USF tossed more than twice as many interceptions than touchdowns, to cite one marker. Another was the play of the offense as a whole, which ranked last in the American in yards, passing yards and points per game. A third was this defense, even if the Bulls did rebound from a horrible, horrible start to find some bright points during conference play. The total package was a disaster: USF lost to McNeese State, Florida Atlantic and Memphis in the same season, and that’s got to be some sort of record.

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