Leavitt Luncheon Quotes, Sept. 19, 2006

USF Head Coach Jim Leavitt talks about the Bulls upcoming game at Kansas, on the development of freshmen quarterback Matt Grothe, the status of the running game, and more at his weekly Press Luncheon Tuesday September 19, 2006

Leavitt Luncheon Quotes – Sept. 19, 2006


Opening statement … "We had a good practice last night, the guys worked hard. The University of Kansas is a very good team. They're very big. Their offensive line is huge. They have an outstanding quarterback, their running backs are very good, there receivers are big. They're impressive on offense. On defense, their front four is by far the best front four that we'll have faced. Their linebackers are outstanding, and their secondary is good. Their defense is awfully good. They went to a bowl game the past few years and we're going into their place – Memorial Field – in Lawrence , Kansas , on their turf, against a very good Big 12 team. It just keeps getting tougher. The challenges are getting a lot tougher every week. Our team's going to have to play with great effort, but we need to play awful smart, and not make the mistakes we've been making. We won't have a chance to win if we make the mistakes we've been making, like certainly the punt and those things, the turnovers. We need to sure a lot of those things up, or we'll have a hard time this weekend. It's quite a challenge. We're excited about it, I am, and I think our players are it'll be a real challenge."


On how quarterback Matt Grothe has developed in his three collegiate games … "Well, you know, I think he's doing a good job. I think he's probably handling things pretty well. He goes out and competes. He's made enough mistakes that he knows that he still needs to get better, and that he has a way's to go. He has as good family who I'm sure has taught him humility, which is very important. He knows that it takes a lot of people to make anything happen, and I think he understands that. Matt knows that he has to work extremely hard to get where he or anybody else needs to get to. We'll try to make sure that he doesn't slow down on how hard he works, so I think he's done ok with that."


On whether he is concerned that the team is slow to get into gear until the second half of the game, or encouraged that the team finds a way to win after being down early … "Well I like the positive part of what you said, that the fact that we have been able to compete and finish games, and compete throughout, I think is really important. We don't go out there intentionally and want to not do well. You know last game, we've had moments – the last few games – we were down 7-0 against FIU (Florida International) and Ean (Randolph) returns a punt all the way, we answered back right away. We're kind of just banging. We're a young team that's out there just trying to find a way. You know the last game (against UCF), that was a pretty good team, in that environment, they we a team that was looking for us for a year, the crowd, everything. That was a pretty tough challenge."


On the status of USF's running game … "The guys are doing the best they can. B. (Benjamin) Williams, Walt (Smith), and (Keeley) Dorsey hasn't played a lot lately. Our quarterback has been running real well, so that part is good. Would we like to have a running back get a lot of yards also, yes, it would be nice, but I can't tell you if it is going to happen or not. They do run the ball in practice, they work hard, and we're trying to do the best we can with that. Would I like to have the running backs have a lot more yards, sure."

On whether he expects to cut back on the quarterback draws with the amount of rushes per game … "Well, those are things that I can't answer really. All those things are in our offense. We're probably like anything else, we're going to try to do what we can to move the ball, and get first downs, whatever it is. Right now the quarterback's been running the ball a little bit. It may not this week, I don't know. We have it all ready and then we just see how teams play us. You have a plan, you look at film, you kind of feel that this and that should work, and sometime it does and sometimes it doesn't. You have to adjust during the game to see what's working."


On how much of an advantage it is that Matt Grothe was an option quarterback in high school in terms of getting familiar with USF's offense … "That has helped him, because he did run a similar offense in high school. The game in high school, you still have to get people to block. As far as comparing levels, there's junior high, high school, and college, it's all comparable as far as the level of people that you're playing, that you're going up against. Matt running this offense I think helps him. We're different than what he did in high school, but there are similarities, that part I think helps him."


On his reaction to Matt Grothe winning BIG EAST Conference Offensive Player of the Week … "I think he deserved it. It was a challenging game (the UCF game) and he did some good things so I'm not going to sit here and say that he doesn't deserve it. I don't probably make as a big a thing out of it as I probably should, and usually it's because I want him to stay grounded. Because their will be enough attention. He's going to get enough attention. I didn't ever announce it, I really didn't even know until last night (Monday night). I'm sure John (Sports Information Director John Gerdes) told me, I probably just didn't think about it. I haven't even told the team yet, but I'm sure that everybody knows. I am cautious, he's a young guy. I think he'll be fine, I think he's ok because he's so grounded. He knows. He understands work – all our guys do – and that helps. We're not going to have a shot if we don't lay our hearts and souls on the field. I've never had a team that couldn't do any less than that. So I think they understand that."


On the public perception of playing and possibly beating teams from conferences like the Big 12 and the ACC as opposed to a win over UCF … " Kansas is very good, let me tell you something, if you only saw on film. Their defense, their offense, they are very good. Our guys have seen the film, and they realize that this is another step. It's a different deal. Central Florida had the other emotional aspect of it all. The proximity of schools that I talked about last week, that people want to make a rivalry, and I would say just because of the locations, it's natural like that. This is a very good football team. They can run. The defensive front can run, they're strong, and their linebackers can really run. They're used to playing the other team's in the Big 12. They're used to that kind of level and play. That's probably the difference between some of the conferences. You see all the I-AA's knocking off some very good I-A teams, but can you do it week-in-and-week-out in these major conferences? That's another deal. Our guys understand that this is a different situation and that we're going to have to raise our level of play. You can't make mistakes. We've made mistakes the first three games and have found a way to win. You're not going to do that against teams of this caliber. You just won't, you won't have success."


On any one moment that stands out in his mind after playing against Kansas as a player at Missouri or coaching Kansas State "It was a great challenge every time we played them, a great challenge. I've come away from this stadium with some wins and losses, and it's always tough, it's always been a hard fought game, as a player and as a coach. Mark Mangino does a very god job. He's a tough competitor. They're going to be ready to play. They've had an extra day, you know, they played on Friday night. For coaches it's good, you get an extra day of film and for players you get an extra day of rest because you're sore and all of that stuff. It's always been tough, tough games."


On how important it is to go on the road and get on the scoreboard first … "I'd always like to have a lead, whether it's at home or on the road, or anywhere. People talk about on the road because you want to take the crowd out of the game. I always like to start off fast. We haven't, it's not because we don't want to. But whatever the circumstances of a game – whatever happens – you have to deal with it and you have to adjust. If you get a lead you have to fight all the way through. So I think it's important to try to play well all the way through. Things happen and you have adversity in everything in every game. I haven't been, hardly in any games where there hasn't been any adversity. You've got to deal with it, however it comes, because it's going to come. Every game it's going to come."


On Trae Williams's interceptions being because the offense doesn't want to challenge Mike Jenkins or because Trae is making all the plays … "I think it's because Trae works extremely hard. People have challenged both sides. Last game Mike was challenged just as much as Trae. I think it's just Trae working so hard in practice. He's hard on himself. He tries to be the very best he can be, and I just think that is his work ethic that makes those plays. But I think they challenge both sides. I haven't seen them go to one side or the other more than the other."


On whether this is a game to worry about coming off an emotional win and then having the BIG EAST opener on Sept. 29 … "Again, like I said last week, I don't worry too much. There's enough there – in my brain – I can't do those things that. I can't worry about this and that. I just sit here and think so much about the team that we're playing, I can't think about other things. Then you sit there and think what if this happens, what if that happens. I don't even think about those things. You just try to get your guys ready as best you can, and go out and try to play as hard as you possibly can, and focus on your team. Try to get them ready to go, and hopefully the leadership of your team – and this is always critical – the coaches work hard, but the leadership of your team is important. You go out and play, go out and play. I already told you this is tough. I understand how good Kansas is. They went into Toledo , they had the game won, Toledo 's a good football team, in their backyard at night, and had a whole bunch of opportunities to win. This is a good football team. This is a great challenge, great challenge. I don't think about the next game, all I'm thinking about is Kansas . The next games we play, they're all good. There's going to be enough challenges all the way though. I'd be sick if I started thinking to far ahead with all the good teams we're facing."


On whether he's looking at doing anything special to put the game on KU's freshman quarterback's (Kerry Meier) shoulders or stay with their usual defensive plan … "I think for the most part, anybody we play, we're always going to try to stop the running game the best we can. Now they run with their quarterback quite a bit and he's very good, he's very fast. He reminds me a lot of the quarterback at Arkansas . He gets out there and when he goes you just can't catch him. This guy can run. So, you know, that's going to be tough, because he can throw, he can run, they have good running backs, they can run the ball well. We always want to try to stop the run and stop the big play, those two things are always important, and we have work to do there. We've got to get better."



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