Coach Leavitt Q&A

With spring practice quickly approaching, we thought it would be a good time to catch up with the man himself, Coach Jim Leavitt. In our exclusive interview he talks about the up's and down's of last season, the looming QB battle, this year's recruiting, replacing key losses on both the offensive and defensive line, the UCF rivalry and much more. Only on What were some of the highpoints/lowpoints from last season, and was there anything you would have done differently?
Jim Leavitt: Oh no, I would not have done anything differently. I mean we always want to win, but we worked so hard and I think our guys pushed. We are building from that 4-7 team, and we end up reaching a number of goals. One is we wanted a winning season, we did that. Two, we wanted to reach a bowl game, we did that. Our big goal was to win the Big East, we didn't do that, but I thought we took steps in the right direction. We had a good season and thought the guys did some good things, and I'm real excited about the guys coming back.

USFN: What are your thoughts on the UCF and FAMU series? Also the potential of scheduling future games?
Leavitt: Florida A&M we probably will not play that many times. They are a division 1AA team that we probably just won't play. Now, Central Florida is an exciting game to play. They are such a well coached football team. Look how they did in Conference USA. Because of proximity this game is going to get bigger and bigger every year. They are a tremendous program and I'm happy we play them.

USFN: How did you feel about the attendance numbers from the UCF game?
Leavitt: I thought they were pretty good. We got into the upper-deck, which I thought was good. I'm always hoping for a sellout in that game, and I'm sure it will be when we go to Orlando this year.

USFN: What are your thoughts on the increased media attention?
Leavitt We are getting quite a bit of it. Of course going to a bowl game helped that. The media attention is always there and has always been there, it's continuing to grow. As we play football, and we've only played for nine years, every year it's going to get bigger. Especially with the TV time that playing in the Big East brings.

USFN: How was recruiting different this year than in years past?
Leavitt: To be honest I don't know if it was any different as far as the work load. You always work as hard as you can to get the very best you can. We do have a little more to sell now, with the Big East and the new facilities, that has helped out a lot. It's still a grind and it's still tough. It's not easy because each year we're going after better and better players, and you don't know how young people handle adversity and starting college.

We did well this year, there were probably only two players that I really, really wanted that we didn't get. We lost one to Miami (Javarris James) and one to Florida State (Daron Rose), that were high on my personal list. Other than that I feel pretty good where we are at with recruiting, but you just don't know. You have to wait a year or two to find out.

USFN: What will it take for Matt Grothe, Grant Gregory, or Pat Julmiste to beat out Carlton Hill this spring?
Leavitt: I think its pretty wide open right now. We are going to have Hill come in as our starter but I think Pat has proven he is a great leader. He just needs to get a little more consistent, remember that we won a lot of games under Pat. Grothe, I'm excited to see what he can do. He's a leader, he can throw the ball and can handle an offense. Grant is the same way and he's a great kid.

USFN: Is Grant Gregory going to stay at the QB position?
Leavitt: Yes, right now he is.

USFN: Is the defensive coaching vacancy something that you want to fill by the start of spring practice?
Leavitt: It would be nice, but what is more important is to feel good about who you hire. It's more important to make a quality hiring.

USFN: Will the extra practice that the team got in December be evident this spring?
Leavitt: We hope, that was certainly a bonus.

USFN: What was the biggest thing the team got out of those extra workouts?
Leavitt: The young guys getting more reps.

USFN: How will the Oline and Dline bounce back from the loss of the graduating seniors?
Leavitt: Oh that's going to be a big question mark. We lost some very good players in those area's, some outstanding athletes. We had thirteen seniors leave and nine of them are going to play more football. Whether its NFL, CFL or Arena League, they will go on to play more football. That is not easy to replace, but I like the guys we got. Hopefully we can find a starting offensive line by the end of spring. We want to find 5 starters with the guys we have right now.

USFN: With Hall's departure is the coaching staff going to make a more concerted effort to run a balanced offense?
Leavitt: Well, we always want balance. Last year we probably put the ball in Andre Hall's hands a little bit more because he earned it. But we always want balance and we always want to throw the ball. We just got to a point last year where we were more successful putting it in Andre's hands.

USFN: Are you in favor of instant replay in the college game?
Leavitt: Yes, absolutely.

USFN: Do you like the college or pro instant replay?
Leavitt: I don't want to do the pro style unless we could get high level monitors in the booth. We don't have high level monitors in the booth like the pro's do. Now if they did that, then I would be in favor of the pro style replay.

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