Bulls QB Matt Grothe Reflects on Auburn Win

With the Bulls amazing 26-23 overtime win at Auburn still fresh in mind, we got a chance to talk with USF's quarterback Matt Grothe. Read on to get his thoughts on what it was like to play at Auburn, what it meant to the team, what lasting memories he'll always have, and more. Only on USFNation.com. Get it First, Get it Fast!

What was it like walking up to Jordan-Hare stadium with all the fans and all that history?


MG: Which part? All the RVs or… [laughs]. It was a different experience. People said there were going to be RVs but I didn't there were going to be thousands of RVs. I didn't think I was going to see that many pumpkins running around everywhere, there was just a bunch of orange everywhere. I would definitely want to go back even if I wasn't playing just to go watch a football game there. Driving through that area was unbelievable how much they care for their team. I wish that could be us one day and have people care about us as much as those fans do. It looked like there were a lot more than 87,000 people standing outside.


Did you travel with the team to Penn State in '05, when there were 100,000 plus fans?


MG: Uh no, but I talked to some guys that said that wasn't even half as loud as [Auburn] and there were like 20,000 fans more at Penn State. I couldn't even imagine a stadium that is louder than Auburn. I don't know how it gets louder than that.


How do you feel you played?


MG: There were a couple of plays I felt I could have done better than I did, but during the game I didn't think I had time or space to do something about some of the [defenses] they were throwing at us. When you look at film, you can see that there are definite spots where I could have done some other things, but then again it is Auburn and they have one of the best defenses in the nation. It was good to get practice against a really big, fast and strong defense like theirs.


With everything that happened and the way you won, was this game the type that brings the team closer together?


MG: When we made that field goal at the end to tie it up, it showed a lot about our team. Everyone says that we are still young and have a lot of young players, it showed that we're starting to come together and play as one because I know if I was the kicker, I wouldn't have too much confidence in myself after missing 4 or 5 kicks. I think that kick helped him a lot with his confidence and helped our team a lot with our confidence because we knew we had a chance to win the game even as bad as we were getting stopped at their goal line.  I don't think there will be a drop off week we're going to have; we're just going to keep getting better and better.


Did you say anything to Alvarado between the missed kicks?


MG: Well, sometimes I can be a little harsh [laughs], when I'm in the middle of the game. I don't know if you guys talked to Delbert today, but he'll probably laugh if you ask him about what I said to him. When he came out, I said "you better make this, we're counting on you." He kind of look at me like anybody else would if they had just missed kicks in front of 87,000 fans, scared to death. I always give him a hard time in practice, when he's kicking by being loud and trying to make him miss, so he can put things out of the back of his mind when he's in a situation like this. I don't know if me saying that helped him because he's used to it during practice or if it scared the crap out of him but he made the kick and that's all that matters. After the game everybody gave him a big hug, it was a big time kick. Like I said earlier, to miss 4 out of 5 kicks and come out and make that, everyone is going to have respect for you. He deserved to get noted for that because not too many people can keep going after that debacle.


It seem like most of the players wanted to go for it on that 4th and 1, did you?


MG: Oh yeah [laughs]! I was quite miffed to say the least that we didn't. That's why we have coaches and not just players. I was really happy that we didn't go for it after the game because we won, I don't know what would have happened if we did go for it. It worked out for the best even though I was scared to death sitting on the sidelines wishing I was out there on 4th and 1 instead of the field goal unit.



When you let go of that TD pass what was going through your head?


MG: Actually when he caught it, I think I was so emotional for the last 5 minutes because of what had happened in the football game with us missing the field goals and [Auburn] going up and us getting that big kickoff return and tying it up. When he caught it, it took me a few seconds to realize what actually happened. I was thinking "Alright, we've got another play, and then it hit me that we just won the game." It was really cool watching the people in the stands with their orange and blue pompoms throwing them at us [laughs]. Our fans on the other side were going berserk. It will be something I always remember.


Jordan-Hare stadium is known for being one of the loudest stadiums in all of college football, as soon you guys won the game how quiet did it get?


MG: Quiet enough to hear the 3,000 people that were wearing the right colors on that night. That was quite a different experience, sometimes it got to the point where it was so loud my ears started hurting. There was one drive [in particular] where we were coming off of the goal line, I had to change the play; I don't think any of the offensive lineman knew what the play was. They just kind of ran, because I couldn't even hear myself making the audible. I remember Ryan Schmidt looking at me and was like "what did you just say?" I looked up at the play clock and there was only 3 seconds left so I couldn't call a timeout because we only had one and I didn't want to waste it with one quarter left to play. It was ridiculous how loud it was.


Did you celebrate your 21st birthday right afterwards?

MG: No. As soon as I got home, I was so tired, I'm still sore to this day. I fell asleep at like 7 [am] and slept for like the rest of the day


How do you feel the running game went against Auburn?


MG: I actually think [considering] the team that we played; we did as good as a job as anybody in the nation would do against them. I mean two weeks ago, Kansas State had 17 rushing yards total against them and we had well over a hundred. If sacks counted for passing yards instead of rushing yards we would have had close to two hundred rushing yards. I decided to run around a couple of times when I shouldn't have, losing 15 yards instead of losing no yards.


Did you think you were going to break another long run?


MG: I swear, that one play on [our own] goal line, where I went one way and then came back the other, if that guy hadn't touched my foot, I was going 90 yards down the field because there was nobody in front of me.



What's it been like since you guys have gotten back from Auburn?


MG: Nice! Everybody is ecstatic, I'm going around campus and you can tell we touched a lot of people with that win. It made a real big impact on the school.


Do you feel there are more people noticing you and coming up to you, wishing you congratulations?


MG: Yeah, there are still a lot of people that kind of look at me strange, they don't know if it's me or not. There are always those people that are willing to take chances and say "Are you Matt?" and I tell them "Yeah!" Then they say "Holy Crap! Congratulations, Happy Birthday!" It has been an interesting experience the last couple of days.


Do you think the bye week come at the right time for the team?


MG: It's at a good time; we get done with that game and its one of the biggest games we've ever won here. We have a lot of injuries, not a lot of major injuries but a lot of people are nicked up and it's just a good time to get everyone healed going into these next few games. It will determine how we end up.



How much attention did you guys pay to the rankings and polls?


MG: Not a lot, I figured we would be right where we were. I said that after the game because the coach's poll doesn't…I don't know, I think they think that we've only been here for ten years compared to other schools that have been around for 50-60-70-80-90-100 years. I don't think we get respect from the coach's because of that. If we keep winning games, we'll be fine. The only thing that I didn't like was the fact that Auburn was still somehow in front of us which doesn't make a lot of sense. I would be happier if they switched places with us. It doesn't make a lot of sense to me especially since we beat them at Jordan-Hare, which is one of the [toughest] stadiums out there to play at.


After a win at Auburn, how tough is it for you guys to focus on the North Carolina game, with the West Virginia game looming?


MG: I don't think it's hard at all. I think it was harder to pay attention to Elon with Auburn coming up. It's North Carolina; it's not like nobody knows who they are. It's a school that's been around for a while and has a great coach right now. They have a lot of talent, but they're just young. We're young [too] and have a lot of talent. It's just a matter of who can put it all together. For all we know, they could put it all together next week against us and play the best game they've ever played. We just have to go out there and work and make everything happen.


Do you think we'll see some attendance records broken for the West Virginia game?


MG: I definitely think we are going to break some kind of a record for West Virginia especially if we have a good win next week against North Carolina. What inspired me most was how [Auburn] was completely packed.



How do you guys evaluate your offense right now?


MG: We have a lot of little things that we need to work on, but going from week one to week two, we've gotten a thousand times better. You can just see that we're starting to come together as more of a whole. Everyone is working really hard in practices, and we're only going to get better. I'm kind of looking forward to seeing how much better we can get come November or whatever when hopefully we're playing for the Big East championship.


Some of the people said that Auburn was hostile, some say it was friendly, and how do you think it was?


MG: Most of the game I thought they were normal. I looked over at the student section and they were some people flipping you off and you got some people that were there just to watch the game. It really kind of upset me after we won the game and I see bottles flying at us from the stands, but after we were driving off there were a lot of fans wearing orange and blue clapping for us. It was a normal environment minus the bottles.


In the past, you told me that you like road games, and playing in front of crowds that yell and boo at you in the beginning, and then seeing their face when you win, how does this win rank?


MG: It doesn't get much better than that, especially when your walking of the field and look up at that big ole' TV screen and all those Auburn fans with their hands over their heads and they show us and everybody's got a big smile on their face.


What memories do you take away from this game?


MG: Probably when we were fixing to walk underneath the tunnel and seeing our fans still there yelling and screaming and looking around and there was like five Auburn fans when there was 87,000 just two minutes ago. It was still cool to see like 4,000 green shirts and playing ‘Where is Waldo' to pick out the Auburn fans that are still in the building [laughing].


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