Jim Leavitt Luncheon Quotes: Oct. 31, 2006

USF Head Coach Jim Leavitt talks about the Bulls loss at Cincinnati, the status of the football program, the upcoming Homecoming game vs Pitt, what USF has to do defensively to contain Tyler Palko, and more at his weekly Press Luncheon Tuesday October 31, 2006

Oct. 31, 2006 Jim Leavitt Media Luncheon


USF Athletics Facility, Tampa , Fla.


Opening statement … "Just going over some things as I've done in the past, obviously last week was … we've never had an off-week so late in the season as this year. It's obviously good for all teams to rest a little bit and kind of go back and look at different things and different parts of their game. We did some recruiting, I got out and traveled quite a bit, all our coaches did. I was concerned about how our guys would come back, but they practiced real well yesterday—we went in the afternoon instead of at night.  We're back on schedule and we haven't been back on schedule in a while because we played on a Sunday night, our last game. Cincinnati was a tough loss. Any loss is, we had momentum going, we had some things going in and we just didn't play good enough, Cincinnati did and they beat us. The key is coming back out and getting going again and playing good football. Playing fundamental good football. I was having a lot of fun with this team. We were playing pretty well and doing a lot of good things. I like what we're doing offensively and defensively and with the kicking game. We're really trying.  It's a pretty talented group, a little young in some areas, but pretty talented. It's kind of fun to watch them grow and develop. "We know it's a big challenge, Pittsburgh 's very good, everybody knows that. It will be a great challenge. I'm excited for it; I think our guys will play well Saturday. I think it will be a heck of a football game. I'm excited to be getting out and playing again. I do not like off-weeks personally because I'd much rather play. I watched some college football a little bit, but we're excited about this week."


On the schedule and when the bye week comes … "I don't know. What most coaches are going to do is say it's good because it is when it is.  You don't really control all of it. I don't do all the different bits and pieces with the scheduling because you've got to go through the conference office and go through a number of people. Scheduling is not what it used to be when we started our program. I called up Kentucky Wesleyan and said ‘will you pay $20,000 to come down here and play us, would you like to play us', they said ‘sure, why not.' It's a little different than that, my point is that it happens to be what it is, so we end up making it a positive. Our guys went through eight weeks of football, we haven't really gone that long of a stretch without a break before. Last year, remember we had a five weeks off. Five weeks of a season because of the hurricanes, so it's a little different thing. But it's what it is when you live in Florida , you don't always really know."


On the team playing flat against Cincinnati "No, I don't think we were flat because it was 2-0 at halftime. Not everybody was flat. You don't end up with 2-0 … their defense was very good, and I think that some people don't know that Cincinnati does play pretty good defense. They played some good teams. Ohio State 's a pretty good team, they played them there and really played them pretty well if you go watch that game, through the third quarter. Then they had Virginia Tech on the ropes. It's kind of an honor to play, in not only a BCS conference, but one of the toughest right now. I don't know what the BIG EAST will be next year.  I don't know what it'll be the year after, but I know this year, at this present time, this is one of the most powerful BCS conferences in the country, I think everybody would have to say that and if you look at a lot of who people have played on the outside, you would have to say that. So we felt like South Florida was moving pretty fast to go from Independent to Conference USA to BCS conference, now we're in one of the most powerful BCS conferences in the country. So you'd better change quickly, because that's just the way it is. So my point is that Cincinnati had a losing record I believe when we played them, but when you really look at who they've played and what's happened in those games, they played Louisville, they had Louisville beat, they had Virginia Tech beat, they played Ohio State all the way to the end on the road, they won all of their other games. Pittsburgh was the one that they went in there and beat them, Pittsburgh did a great job going in there and beating them, shows you what Pittsburgh is. You look at Pittsburgh , one of their only losses is Rutgers , pretty good, and they beat Pittsburgh . Pittsburgh played Michigan State , which was their only loss.  Michigan State had Notre Dame beat, right, we all saw that. So you can kind of look at the whole thing and see these are some pretty good football teams. And it's exciting, it really is. To me it's exciting, we're right in the middle of one of the most powerful BCS conferences, it's kind of neat and it makes you really realize that you're on the cutting edge really. That part's kind of neat."


On status of program … "I think that most people would say that we have some talent.  Everybody would say that right now. That we are a pretty talented team, I think that most people would say that we've still got to get better in some areas. Offensively we've done some very good things, our offense struggled last game. Part of it was us, part was Cincinnati . You've got to realize when you go to somewhere and you go to try and beat somebody, you've got to go grab that win. You've got to go and take it.  You can play a real good game and lose. On the road, you better go get that win and I don't know if all our guys fully understood that. I think a number of our guys did, but I don't know if all of our guys did. Unless you've been in those situations and you realize that you've got to fight, scratch and claw for everything you get all the way through all 60 minutes, it's still going through the course of a tune-up. We just couldn't make a play. We couldn't make a play on offense, couldn't get a turnover on defense and we tried on special teams, that didn't work. But it was fun to try, I was excited about it. I wasn't excited that we didn't make the first down, but I was excited that we tried. I thought it was a pretty good time to do it.  We just couldn't make a play and that's part of the deal.


On Pitt's Tyler Palko "He's pretty good. He moves so well with that ball and he keeps the ball ready and he's got that quick release. He's confident and he knows the field. He's very good. I don't know if there's anyone that we've faced that really compares. He's pretty good."


On what USF is going to have to do defensively to contain Tyler Palko … "It's going to test everybody on our defense. Certainly you need to have a good pass rush and you need to be in the right areas. You've got to do both, you've got to do a number of things to have a chance to slow them down. He's going to make some throws, he's going to complete some passes, there's nothing you can do about that, but it's going to have to be the whole defense playing together."

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