- Matt Fortuna, ESPN Staff Writer
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Our series wraps up today with USF, ushering in Year 1 of the Willie Taggart era.
Spotlight: Running backs
Why: It's no secret that the Bulls have struggled running the ball in recent years, with no back eclipsing the 1,000-yard rushing mark in a single season since 2005. Adding to the challenge in 2013 is the fact that they have lost their top-three rushers from a year ago — most notably Demetri Murray, who finished 2012 with 665 yards and six touchdowns on 170 carries.
Enter Taggart, who had a 1,000-yard rusher in each of his three seasons at Western Kentucky, with Bobby Rainey finishing near the top of the national leaderboard in 2010 and 2011. As running backs coach at Stanford, Taggart also coached Toby Gerhart, who finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting in 2009.
Taggart has said that Marcus Shaw and Michael Pierre show the most promise in the backfield entering this spring. Shaw, a senior, carried the ball 51 times last season for 248 yards. Pierre, a redshirt junior, sat out last season after coming over from Golden West College, where he netted 1,160 yards and nine scores on 227 carries during his two seasons there.