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Willie Taggart, USF Bulls will turn to freshman at QB

11:16 PM, Oct 27, 2013   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida -- For a while on Saturday, the most exciting thing that happened at the USF game didn't even happen on the field. Former quarterback Matt Grothe, arguably the Bulls' most recognizable player in team history, proposed to his girlfriend.

She said yes, by the way.

Too bad first year head coach Willie Taggart couldn't hand Grothe a pair of cleats during the Bulls' 34-3 blowout loss to No. 20 Louisville. The quarterback situation at USF is a little unsettled, to be kind.

Through the first six games and the first three quarters of the seventh, USF used a combination of Matt Floyd (72 yards and 2 INTs), Bobby Eveld (455 yards, 2 TDs and 2 INTs) and Steven Bench (392 yards, 2 TDs and 3 INTs) under center. On Saturday, Floyd, a captain and the starter in the season opener, watched as Eveld got injured. He watched Bench throw an interception that was returned for a score. He even tried to encourage Bench after he was, well, benched.

Floyd started warming up on the sideline after USF got down by 31 points. It looked like he'd be headed in. But, eyebrows began to rise around the stadium when fans saw who Taggart turned to next.

Baby-faced freshman Mike White entered the game with 7:50 to go. He handed the ball off three times and completed one of his two passes, a 5-yard hookup with Stephen Bravo-Brown.

The decision to use the freshman, a quarterback that many consider to be the future of the Bulls, essentially burned a year of his college eligibility. That wasn't on Taggart's mind during the game. He was too focused on finding a way for his 2-5 team to win.

"It wasn't that I had to try it. I wanted to try it," said Taggart. "I want to see what the kid can do for us. He's going to get another opportunity to do it next week."

White led University High School to a 13-0 record and the 3A state championship last year as a senior. He threw for 282 yards and two touchdowns against Madison County in the title game. Taggart said he can make "all the throws we need him to make," but added that there will be a learning curve for the talented new leader of the Bulls offense.

"He's still green. He hasn't played at this level," said Taggart. "He's a smart kid. He has a little swagger that you like at the quarterback position. He has great anticipation when he throws the football."

The USF football website lists White as 6-foot-5 and 195 pounds. He's got the frame that Taggart likes in a passer and the upside the Bulls need.

The question is: can he be the answer the offense is looking for?           

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