Jim Leavitt Press Conference Quotes (9/5/06)

Head Coach Jim Leavitt talks about the Bulls season opener against McNeese State, on freshmen quarterback Matt Grothe's performance, and getting the team ready for FIU at his weekly Press Luncheon Tuesday September 05, 2006

USF Head Football Coach Jim Leavitt

Quotes from his weekly media luncheon

September 5, 2006 , BIG EAST Room


Opening comments … "Last night we had a pretty good practice, although we got cut from rain. We're going to go out early today. We're going to go out at 3 p.m. today, because I'm worried about the rain that is coming in again, and we need to get a good practice in today.


FIU is a really good football team. The last time we went to Middle Tennessee and played we got beat by 30 or 35 points. They just handed it to us. FIU had to deal with a hurricane (Eduardo) last week, has to go up to Murfreesboro , Tennessee early, goes into Middle Tennessee and nearly beats them, which is pretty impressive when you really look at it. That's hard to do. They showed to me that they have great focus and great composure to be able to do that.


 They have a defensive end, (Antwan) Barnes, who can absolutely destroy an offense. I've seen nobody stop him. He is the real deal. He is that good, and it's hard to stop that guy. I think their team speed on defense is very good. I think they run extremely well, their secondary, I thought, was outstanding. The have some real good players. Offensively, their tight end is supposed to be an NFL candidate, he is one of the top in the country right now in catches, and their quarterback (Josh Padrick) is very impressive. I think he's an outstanding player. I saw him play last year and thought he did a great job. He can run, he can throw, he can beat you. I think the receivers do a good job, the offensive line is big, and the running backs run hard.


This is going to be a tough challenge for us. I imagine it will be like last week. I told everyone last week that game would come down to the wire, and it was true, and you saw it. We have a young team that we are trying to develop. Our main focus is trying to get better as a football team this week. Injury-wise the only thing that I will make a comment on, Mosie Plancher we'll find out more about him later this afternoon. Thed Watson and Mark Dile, they're getting better, where they'll be at, we won't really know for a couple of days, whether we'll have them or not. Everybody else is fine."


On whether he thinks someone will emerge at quarterback or whether it will be decided on a weekly basis … "I don't have a crystal ball. I don't know. I just know right now that we will start Matt (Grothe) and go from there. Pat (Julmiste) is a pretty good quarterback. He threw and ran extremely well. It wasn't his fault that we had illegal procedure, or illegal formation, it wasn't his fault we got the holding calls. Every drive he was in there we got penalties. Pat did real well, and that was encouraging because Pat can play.


 It was good to get Grant (Gregory) in also. We're going to need all three. I talked to  (Anthony) Severino yesterday to, and I'm really proud of him. He works hard. He's works the scout team right now, because he needs to be throwing the football, so he's doing that. But I don't know how it's going to play. I think you're going to see them all play. I mean, it's a long season, a physical tough season. They will all be involved."


On whether he will use five running backs, like last weekend, this week against FIU … "I don't know. I'm sure they'll all play. I'll tell you after the game, I really don't know. I know that they will all play, but I don't know who's going to play the most. Carl (running backs coach Carl Franks) does all that, putting them in there. I think they all did some good things. I thought Walt (Smith) did some good things, Keeley (Dorsey) did some good things, I thought B (Benjamin) Williams ran for some tough yards. 


On his philosophy on whether injured players get their staring positions back when they are healthy … "I don't have any philosophy on it. If it's a guy that has been established, he's probably going to get back into the hunt right away. If a guy hasn't proven much, he better hope the other guy not come in a play. This isn't like the NFL and an injury can't take a starter out. We're going to play who we think is doing the best."


On what stood out about Matt Grothe's performance after watching film of the game … "I thought he handled adversity pretty well. He didn't do real well right away. He had a fumble, there were some mistakes. I think he just stayed focused on the game. With some guys, when you bring them in like that, they're mistakes there, and they may not continue to go after it. I think that was important to me. I thought he was pretty calm. He went out and just directed the offense. There wasn't any yelling, or calling it this way or that way, or any of those kind of things that you have with a young quarterback sometimes.


All of our quarterbacks did a pretty good job with that. So I thought he was pretty efficient, but it was one game, we'll see. How good of a player he is, is certainly a test over time. He did some good things last game. We'll see as the year goes. I think we'll need them all."


On whether Matt Grothe played better than he had played in practice … "No. I read in The Oracle (USF student newspaper) this morning, I read a comment that he had, that he thought he played than he though he would play. I thought he played like he practices."


On whether he has a plan for the quarterbacks like he had last Saturday (starting Pat Julmiste and replacing him with Matt Grothe to start the second half) … "Well, if we did have one I wouldn't tell you, but we don't. I don't have any plan that this guy is going to play one quarter, this guy's is going to play 18 minutes, it doesn't matter. Pat's going to be ready to go, and Grant's going to be ready to go, and Severino's going to be ready to go."


On what Pat Julmiste does to keep his confidence up … "I don't know, he just goes out and does what he does. Like any position player. He practices a lot. I hope all our guys are confident, we work hard. You gain confidence with success, obviously, and the first place is in practice. If you have success in practice, you feel that you might have a shot."


On who may start at running back if Moise Plancher is not able to start against FIU … "You know, I don't know. I think what we'll do is let Carl (running backs coach Carl Franks) make that decision. I always let my coaches make that decision unless I see something that I really don't like. I imagine Carl will play who practices the best this week."


On whether it's productive to go against a team like FIU that is going through the same things that USF is going through with youth … "I don't think about those things. I really don't. To me, we're so concerned about seeing if we can play any better, I really don't think about any of those other thoughts other than going out and practicing really well today and seeing if we can improve. I don't even think like that. I know FIU's can beat us if we don't play really well. That I know. Just like I knew McNeese could beat us. There was no doubt that they could beat us. And they had a shot. I know FIU is the same thing.


We've got to play better and if we don't then we're going to struggle. It's as simple as that. We're going to practice hard, and hopefully our guys will have enough focus so we can get a little bit better today. If we can improve and keep that going, then we have a chance to be competitive this year. I don't think ahead that much. I just think about today and this game."


On how special this game is to Bernard Clark who, prior to coming to USF, spent two years as defensive coordinator at FIU … "I don't know. I haven't asked him."


On whether he is going to go with the hot running back … "I don't know, I mean I really don't. I just go into a game and watch people play. I don't know, you know. I just always think about positive things. And if people are going to go in there and play well, I hope they do. I don't go in there thinking, if this is going to happen I'm going to do this, If this is going to happen I'm going to do this. I don't ever think like that. I just go in hope everybody plays well and see how it goes."


On who will probably get the start at punter … "(Delbert) Alvarado. Delbert is going to go in first. Ilia's really got a great leg. Obviously he does. He did in practice. He hit some really great balls. He'll be fine, he'll be fine. Both of those guys are going to be important to us in punting. They both have good legs. I'm not as concerned about the punters as making sure that the ball is snapped there, and that we go down and we cover during our punting. We didn't cover real well last week."


On why he named a starting quarterback after keeping it so quiet during the opening week … "I just felt like it. No other reason than that."



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