Willie Taggart is taking over the South Florida Bulls and looking to push them to the top of the Big East in 2013. He faces some special challenges to get that done, losing long-time starting quarterback B.J. Daniels along with the top two running backs from 2012. To replace that lost rushing production, Taggart is turning the reins of the running game over to senior Marcus Shaw, but he will have to overcome his vast inexperience in order to lead the Bulls to victory next fall.
Shaw earned the No. 1 running back job early in spring practice, but doesn’t have the track record to give a clear picture of just what he can do with it. He enters 2013 with just 82 career carries, the third lowest total of any returning running back in the Big East. In 2012, he rushed 51 times for 248 yards, the fourth most on the team, averaging an impressive 4.86 yards per carry, but scored zero touchdowns. The 5-foot-9, 189-pound back has shown good quickness in the open field, but has to prove he can handle the tough yards between the tackles.
USF has to hope he can get the job done, because there is no experienced option behind Shaw. The senior is the only offensive player to record more than five carries who will return this season, and the player who had the five carries was a wide receiver. The Bulls opened spring with three running backs on the roster who had game experience, but one of them, Bradley Battles, was kicked off the team and the other, Willie Davis, was passed over on the depth chart.
It is up to Shaw to lead the running attack for South Florida next fall. Can he overcome his inexperience and lead the way or will the Bulls’ running game sputter out in 2013?