Leavitt Luncheon Quotes, Sept. 12, 2006

Head Coach Jim Leavitt talks about the Bulls come-from-behind 21-20 win over FIU, on the losses at runningback, if he'll stick with freshmen quarterback Matt Grothe, the kicking game, and getting the team ready for UCF, and more at his weekly Press Luncheon Tuesday September 12, 2006

Opening statement … "Instead of boring you with stuff, I'll just ask if you have any questions, and then we can get right to the point. You don't need to hear me rambling about anything."


On the running game and whether USF will try to pass more to offset its personnel losses in the backfield … "Well, I don't know who's going to run with the ball, but one of our guys got 80-something yards rushing last game. It just so happened to be our quarterback. But we're going to run with our quarterback some just like we run with our running backs. But we've got to find a way to run the ball. I think it would be very, very difficult to think that we can sit back there and throw it all the time."


On whether Matt Grothe will still start at quarterback … "Yes, yeah, Matt will start this week but we'll try to keep all four (quarterbacks) ready. I know that I include all four of them (Grothe, Pat Julmiste, Grant Gregory, and Anthony Severino), but I really mean that. Pat, certainly will be right in there, and then Grant and Severino. But Matt will start."


On whether he's concerned with the field goal kicking position being 0-5 … "Yes, but you know I don't go back to last year, because there were some other things that were maybe a hindrance. But I am. We've got to go and hit field goals. That is important, and I think Mike (Benzer) knows he's got to hit it. He's trying, but you know, after a while you have to do something. If it continues to not be good you have to do something."


On the possibility of continuing to play UCF … "Well I think just because of the location of two schools, it's natural. It's there anyway, as far as getting a rivalry going, I think it's already there, let's be honest. The schools are not separated by that much, they're pretty close. Both schools are trying to build, trying to build a program, so that part is naturally there. How many Florida schools are you going to play? We've played Miami , Central Florida, Florida International, and FAU ( Florida Atlantic University ), and where are you going to go with all of it? I don't know, that's something that I'm unsure of, and how that's all going to work out."


On crossing paths with UCF on the recruiting trail and how much winning Saturday's game will be … "I think so, I think it's important. I don't think it's the only thing that's important. I mean, I don't want to talk for recruits, but I think that recruits will look at a lot of things. I think that this game is one of them, to measure where things are at, but I think that they will also look at a lot of things. There are a lot of variables in the recruiting process, a lot of things, a lot of things that I think families look at, and a young man looks at. An opportunity to play at his position, what conference your in, how you do, not only in this game but other games, I think that the game is real important, but you also have the season, and there are a lot of games to be played, and this is just one game. It is an important game; I recognize that, but there a lot of games. Both team's, regardless of what happens on Saturday, have to find a way to make sure that the focus is on the conference race. Both schools want to win conference championships and want to get into bowl games, and those kinds of things, so with that being said the game is important."


On whether losing a game to Miami is less damaging than losing a game to UCF because of the programs being more equal … "I'm not sure, I don't know really, I haven't thought about it that much. I want to win all games that we play."


On whether there is something to lose by playing a certain team and whether that enters into a decision to play a specific opponent … "No, I don't think that way. I always go into a game hoping to win; I don't think about anything else, I really don't. I don't sit there and think if we lose this game or we lose this game, what would that do to the program. I never think like that and never will. I always go after the game and stay positive and optimistic."


On the penalties during the punting game … "Well, our guys have been pretty aggressive, that's for sure. The efforts been there, and that's good. It hasn't been just one guy. We certainly have to stop, but we don't want to lose our aggressiveness now, but we don't want to get penalties. We point them out on film, we show it to them, but the bottom line is that we have to stop, or it's going to cost you like it did last game, quite a bit."


On Matt possibly being out of synch with his receivers against FIU … "Well Matt and Taurus (Johnson) were in synch, so that was good. The other guys, I don't know. We had a couple of drops when the ball is thrown well. A couple of times there was a communication breakdown between the two. It probably happens when this is Matt's second game that he has played in college, so it's probably not to bad for having a two-game tenure."


On scheduling a BCS of non-BCS team … "I don't necessarily think that comes into play. We have them scheduled for not only this year but two more years. That's as many years as we have anybody schedule other than the conference teams. We have a four-year deal and that's quite a few years."


On the benefit of playing UCF … "Probably financially, everybody would look at it, you don't have to travel too far. You don't have to get on an airplane. The crowd is probably going to be a pretty good crowd. It will be important for both schools, the excitement there, I think for the alumni, the fans."


On whether there is anything to gain, from a football and coaching perspective, from the two schools playing … "Well sure, if you win the football game you should gain quite a bit. It's another win. It's another win towards a bowl game. You'd like to win, that part is pretty exciting. You work so hard, the challenge of it all, that parts kind of fun."


On whether the players a feeling more hyped to play UCF as opposed to a McNeese State "Well, I don't think that there is any question about that. I think that those are the things that you get concerned about with playing a team like McNeese. Since you prepare for those two ( McNeese State and FIU), and even though McNeese is a pretty good I-AA team, I don't know how they did last week but I think they are a pretty good I-AA team. Now you're playing against a team that is supposed to win Conference USA , we never won Conference USA , and they're picked to win the conference. I know that they are picked ahead of us and everything, right now, and probably should be because they did very well last year. They have a lot of people back and we have a young team. So most people would put them in the drivers seat, at there place, the whole deal."


On how much control he has in the scheduling … "Doug (USF Athletic Director Doug Woolard) and I talk about it, I get involved with it, and we discuss it. Certainly the athletic director is the one that makes the final decision, but talks to me about different things at different times."

On whether there are any bad reasons to play UCF … "Well, I don't think that if there were a lot of bad reasons, I don't think we would have gone four games. I mean we scheduled them four years, I keep saying that."


On whether USF is required to play UCF … "You will have to ask Doug (USF Athletic Director Doug Woolard) that. I don't know all of the administration details about all of those things. He just talks to me about scheduling and those things. But we scheduled them for four years. I don't think we scheduled them for four years in the State of Florida ."


On whether he feels UCF is worthy of being in a BCS Conference … "Well there pretty good. I don't make those decisions. I think they are a pretty dang good team, a pretty good team."


On healthy a traditional rivalry would be with UCF … "It could. We have them (UCF) four years in a row so we'll se how it plays out. It could."


On whether he would like to see the USF vs. UCF game become like Florida-Florida State or Florida State-Miami … "Well that depends on the media and television and those kinds of things. Will there be 85 or 90,000 people at the game? I don't know. We'll have to wait and see. I think it will be a pretty good crowd though."


On Ricky Ponton, Josh Julmiste, and Jackie Chambers being suspended indefinitely for a violation of team rules and whether they would play on Saturday … "They are not going to play on Saturday."


On whether there is more at stake playing UCF now that USF is in the BIG EAST … "There is a lot at stake always. Is there a lot because you are in the BIG EAST? In perception, maybe, but there is always a lot at stake. I'm excited about playing. It's such a challenge, such a challenge. They're a very good football team. They've certainly shown it, and it is a real challenge for our guys to go there and play. A great challenge."


On what grabs his attention about UCF's program … "They are doing a whole bunch of things. They have a new facility. They have an indoor (facility). I've never been in an indoor down here, down South. We had one up in Kansas . They're building a stadium, and doing all of those different things. They seem to be working pretty hard at it. They won a bunch of games last year, a bunch of games last year, and played for a championship (Conference USA ) and went to a bowl game. Those are some pretty good things. It shows that they are working at it, pretty hard, and to me that's pretty impressive."


On whether the UCF game is an ideal first road game this year … "I haven't thought about it really. I don't think like that. I don't think, is this ideal, or is this the perfect thing or not the perfect thing, and all. We're playing them this Saturday. I think every test for us is big. Shoot, McNeese we won the game but we were behind the all the way. Last week (against FIU) we were behind the whole game. Were those two pretty good tests? Yeah. For us yeah. We were fortunate to win two games. We've got to battle our tail (off) just to survive and hang in there."


On whether he is concerned about UCF after USF having struggles in its first two games … "I don't worry to much about anybody. I know teams are good, I know every team is good and that you have to play 60 minutes of football. I don't worry as much about the team that we're playing as much as our football team, trying to make sure that our football team gets better and prepares. I know they're good. There is no question about that. I know that we have to play at a very high level to have a chance to win. I know that, and we haven't particularly done that, so we certainly have to get a lot better. We have a lot of young guys around here that hopefully will get a lot better real quick."


On last week's performance of George Selvie "He works hard, he does all the right things and just tries. He understands he has to work real hard to get better. He doesn't get over looked by us."


On what his team is doing well that he is excited about … "Well, we've won a couple of games, somehow we found a way and to me that shows character. They've been in some tough situations, they work hard, and they're trying, they're really trying. They try to do the best they can and I'm proud of them for that. Really, for the most part, that's all you can ask from a football team, just to give it their very best. They are trying to get better and that's important, really important. It means a lot to me. This is a good group of guys. They are doing the best they can."





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