For Kansas, many of the players who excelled in that game went on to drive the Jayhawks to a 12-1 record and a victory in the Orange Bowl. Meanwhile, USF rode its talent to nine wins for two consecutive seasons and all the way to a number two ranking at one point in 2007.
It’s no surprise the teams have followed similar paths to
success –both Jim Leavitt and Mark Mangino were standout
assistants at Kansas State that left with a packed resume and an
attention to detail. That’s served Leavitt well in southern
Florida, where he’s amassed an 81-47 record over his 12
seasons as USF coach. Perhaps most importantly, his program has seen a
steady incline that has seen him pull more and more players out of
zones previously monopolized by Florida’s big three.
Offensively, USF utilizes a spread attack much like the one utilized by
the Jayhawks. They use a lot of rotation through the skill positions
and use many similar formations, like the diamond formation that the
Jayhawks love to use.
The Bulls also have a more-than-capable triggerman in junior Matt Grothe (6-foot, 205 pounds). The Bulls use the mobile Grothe in a
number of ways, rolling him out of the pocket, running some option and
using him as another running back. He can definitely move –
Grothe is the Bulls’ second-leading rusher this season. But,
like his counterpart Todd Reesing, Grothe often looks downfield for
passing options when he’s flushed, making him dangerous. This
season, he’s completed 60.4 percent of his passes for 448
yards and five touchdowns. He can also make costly mistakes, and
he’s thrown two interceptions thus far.
Depending on their health status, Grothe has a bevy of ballcarriers to
hand the ball off to. The best of the bunch is probably Mike Ford, a
225-pounder who sat out the Central Florida game with an ankle injury.
Also injured may be Ben Williams (5-7 200), a versatile senior starter.
Filling in has been junior Mo Plancher (5-9 200), a stocky player who
runs hard and with some burst. He’s done admirably, leading
the team in rushing with 115 yards on 17 carries and three touchdowns.
Sophomore Jamar Taylor (5-9 200) also sees some carries and has
potential. The Bulls program has kept the status of the injured runners
close to their vest.
USF also utilizes a number of athletic receivers to get the ball down
the field. Taurus Johnson (6-1 205) starts at the
‘Y’ position and leads the team in receiving.
He’s a big play threat that is fresh off one of the top five
games in USF receiving history. Sophomore A.J. Love (6-3 202) has
excellent potential from the ‘X’ spot. Marcus Edwards (5-11 172) and Jessie Hester (6-0 180) give the Bulls athletic
options from the ‘Z’ and ‘H’
receiving positions respectively. This group is so deep that last
year’s leading receiver Carlton Mitchell (6-4 212) is now a
backup, behind Love. Cedrick Hill (6-3 244) is an athletic pass catcher
and a red zone threat. He had two touchdown catches against UCF.
The offensive line received a blow this week when they found out that
starting right guard Zach Hermann (6-3 313) had a broken foot.
He’ll be out four weeks. Into Hermann’s place will
step sophomore Jake Sims (6-5 285), a former walk-on and utility man.
Center Jake Griffin (6-4 307) is the leader of the offense, while Ryan Schmidt (6-4 320) and Mark Dile (6-4 300) form a solid tackle group.
Matt Huners (6-3 290), who was injured for most of 2007, will start at
the left guard spot.
The Bulls boast the number one total defense in the country, thanks in
large part to a speedy front seven and a back four that finds the ball
well. Everything starts with All-American defensive end George Selvie
(6-4 245), who had 31.5 tackles for loss last year, including 14.5
sacks. He has yet to get his first sack this year, but that’s
largely because he’s faced double and triple teams on nearly
any play. His play has given the defensive tackle group of Sampson Genus (6-1 314), Terrell McClain (6-3 306) and Aaron Harris (6-4 270)
plenty of playmaking opportunities. Jarriett Buie (6-4 250), a senior
at the other end spot, has talent, but must be more consistent.
The linebacking group has the potential to be among the best in the
country. Tyrone McKenzie (6-2 235) had 250 tackles combined between
2006 and 2007, more than any linebacker in the FBS. He was a
second-team All-Big 12’er at Iowa State in 2006 before moving
on to South Florida and becoming one of the team’s rocks on
defense last year. This year, McKenzie has 12 tackles, including three
in the backfield and one sack. Brouce Mompremier (6-1 230), a former
Jayhawks recruiting target, had 83 tackles a year ago. Junior college
transfer Kion Wilson (6-2 235) mans the middle.
The defensive back group is trying to recoup from the loss of two
cornerbacks to the NFL in Mike Jenkins and Trae Williams. So far, the
Bulls’ cornerbacks haven’t really been tested.
Senior Tyller Roberts (6-1 190) starts at the boundary cornerback
position on the short side of the field, while Jerome Murphy (6-1 185
junior), plays the field cornerback position. Nate Allen (6-2 206) is a
potential All-American at free safety. He’s always around the
ball. Strong safety Carlton Williams (6-4 210) is experienced and tough.
The Bulls have had their struggles in the kicking game, where Delbert Alvarado has been 1-4 on field goals, including an untimely shank at
the end of the UCF game. That prompted Leavitt to name true freshman
Maikon Bonani as his starter for the Kansas game. Alvarado will still
start at punter, where he’s averaged 45.4 yards per punt.
Justin Teachey handles the kickoffs. The Bulls need to improve their
coverage as well – Joe Barnett of UCF took back a kick for a
touchdown last week. The Bulls do boast some nice return men, including
Murphy, who nearly set the USF season return yardage record last year.
Johnson also returns kicks, while Edwards takes back punts.
Two Relative Upstarts: KU vs. USF
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