The Jim Leavitt Report - North Carolina

Bulls Head Coach Jim Leavitt talks about the upcoming USF-UNC game, playing as a top 25 team for the first time, being considered with the Florida 'Big 3' and more. Only at USFNation.com Get It First, Get it Fast

Head coach Jim Leavitt

 

"North Carolina is a very good football team," said Coach Leavitt. "I'm very aware of Coach Davis, and their coaches, they're outstanding. They play awfully well, they were good last year and they are very good this year, and are playing very good football. Going into East Carolina is a very difficult night game and they had that game won. They also had Virginia who's 2-1."

 

Last Season in the two programs only meeting the Bulls beat the Tar Heels 37-20 at Chapel Hill. This season North Carolina is 1-2 and has averaged 79.7 (105th) yards a game on the ground, but have averaged 303.3 (19th) yards passing. 

 

Yates has exploded onto the national scene with 901 yards on 58-of-88 passing and nine touchdowns against just three interceptions. His passing efficiency rating of 178.8 is good for ninth-best nationally and he joins Oklahoma standout Sam Bradford as the only two freshmen in the top-40 of the rankings. In Saturday's 22-20 loss to Virginia, Yates completed 25 of 38 passes for 339 yards and three touchdowns. With his performance on Saturday, Yates set a new North Carolina record for passing. His 339 passing yards were the ninth-most in school history.

 

"I'm very impressed with the quarterback," said Coach Leavitt. "He's got very good feet, he's got range, he makes plays, quick release, and is very confident."

A significant amount of Yates' success has come because of a stellar wide receiver corps Foster, Nicks and Tate has combined for 674 yards and eight touchdowns.

"Their receivers are outstanding, absolutely outstanding," Leavitt said. "They have some of the best receivers I've seen in a while. They're great play makers and have range. They run well and catch the ball. They have tremendous speed and athleticism."

 The Tar Heels have also had solid pass protection from the offensive line with only five sacks allowed – fourth in ACC play.

"I'm very impressed with their offensive line," said Leavitt. "They work very well together.

 

"Their special teams are awfully good, they have a good punter, snapper and they have good coverage," said Leavitt. "Their kick-off team has an outstanding kicker. The return team has a tremendous player in No.87 Tate that returns punts and kicks. It's going to be a heck of a challenge for us."

 

"I'm not focused so much on winning games, as I am playing good football, and playing better football, and trying to improve every day and every week. Playing an ACC team, here at Raymond James, I don't think we've ever done that. We have to work extremely hard to get ready for this game," said Leavitt. "It's going to be a challenge, and I'm looking forward to see how we stack up against a good ACC team."

 

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South Florida jumped into the national rankings following an impressive 26-23 victory at No. 17 Auburn two weeks ago. Will playing for the first time being ranked in top 25 affect how the Bulls play?

 

  "Well maybe on the outside, but not for us. I don't think it will affect us. Maybe the players, but for me my expectations are always pretty high. I'm always going to do everything I can do prepare us to win a football game whether we're ranked or not."

 

"It doesn't change how I go about things. I always feel very confident about our football team and feel that we always try and play at a high level. I don't get moved one or the other because I'll never be able to control those things. If we weren't ranked would my perception be low? No. Whether we're ranked or not, I'm going to go out every day and practice hard, try and win football games and to be better as a football team. Over a 100 games we've been preparing to win football games, and we weren't ranked so that doesn't change."

 

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Having the lead at Auburn, losing it and then coming back and winning in overtime, showed a lot of character for the Bulls, but Leavitt also watched Virginia come back and beat North Carolina.

 

"You have to play sixty minutes of football no matter who you play, and that's never going to change," said Leavitt "Whether you're up or your down, if you don't finish strong you're not going to win. You have to have the ability to do that."

 

After the Bulls thrilling 26-23 overtime win at Auburn, the Bulls had a bye this past weekend. Did Leavitt think the Bye came at a good time or would he rather ride the momentum of the win?

 

 "It doesn't matter, it came when it came, said Leavitt. "We tried to do the best we could with the bye week, and now we're getting ready for North Carolina. It doesn't matter what I think, but we try to look at it as a positive thing."

 

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There are several Bulls nicked up right now, including Chris Robinson, Mo Plancher, and Nick Capogna who won't play at North Carolina. The bye week did give some of the wounded Bulls extra needed time to heal.

 

"Guys are going to get banged up, it's going to be that way for every team in the country through out the season, said Leavitt. "Some guys got to get ready themselves ready to play, and a lot of guys aren't going to be 100 percent, that's the way it's going to be. It hasn't changed as long as I've been coaching. It's a physical game and guys are going to get banged up. Leavitt also added "You got to have depth. You got to have guys ready to play. Sometimes you get concerned with a guy being a back up player, and you don't realize how close they are to playing the whole game."

 

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With a possibly huge game against BIG EAST rival No.5 West Virginia looming the following week at Raymond James, will the Bulls get caught looking ahead to West Virginia.

 

"They seem to be focusing on North Carolina pretty good, they know how good of a team North Carolina is," said Coach Leavitt. "It's North Carolina this week. North Carolina is all were focusing on.

 

The noon kick-off at Raymond James could be a hot one, during the Buc's 1:00 game this past Sunday it was 101 degrees on the field with 65 percent humidity.

 

"It's going to be warm, but it's warm at a lot of places" said Leavitt. "You got to have depth and guys that will step up and play."

 

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There has been a lot of talk recently that USF should be considered in conversation with the ‘Big Three' FSU, Miami and Florida.

 

"I've always said, until you beat one of those guys, they deserve their roles; those three have all won national championships, and have done a great job," said Leavitt. "I don't really feel that there's a right to say anything, if anything it wouldn't be three it be four. We have beaten them yet. We're a competitive team trying to get better."

 

Does South Florida's success with the emergence of other state programs make the state of Florida that more competitive?

 

"Always been competitive in the state, lot of good teams in the state, and they're all going after the same guys. All try to get the best athletes with character, everybody's got talent."

 

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