It has been a rough first season for Willie Taggart with the South Florida Bulls. The team lost their first four games of the season, including a 53-21 blowout to FCS McNeese State, and then failed to score an offensive touchdown in three straight games heading into the Halloween night game with the Houston Cougars. While they sit at just 2-6 and on the verge of being eliminated from the postseason, Taggart and the Bulls can feel good about finding their quarterback of the future in freshman Mike White.
White made his first start against Houston last week and provided an offensive spark that has been completely absent in the USF offense this season. He ended the Bulls’ offensive touchdown drought in the second quarter with an 8-yard strike to Mike McFarland (one of two touchdown connections with McFarland on the night) as he threw for 311 yards on 26-0f-41 passing with the two touchdowns and one interception. In just one start, White has already matched Bobby Eveld and Steven Bench in touchdown passes on the season and surpassed the previous season-high for passing yards (209 vs McNeese State) by 102 yards.
His ability to throw the football down the field has been an element of the offense that has been sorely missed this season. Coming into the game, USF was averaging just 132 yards passing per game with Eveld and Bench and had been held under 100 yards passing in a game twice. The offense was relying exclusively on running back Marcus Shaw, whose absence from the lineup due to injury directly coincided with the Bulls’ offense getting shut out from the end zone.
With Shaw back and White providing something in the passing game, South Florida has a chance to salvage this season down the stretch. They’re unlikely to win out and make a bowl game, of course, but a couple of wins would go a long way in building some momentum for next season when White can truly take over as a leader of this team.