T.J "I thought we were already in the Big 3"

The Bulls will be playing as a top 25 team for the first time against North Carolina Saturday. We got a chance to talk with USF explosive wide receiver Taurus Johnson. Read on to hear what T.J has to say about the top 25 ranking, being considered in the state's 'Big 3', playing UNC, and much more. Only on USFNation.com. Get it First, Get it Fast!

Taurus Johnson



What was your reaction when you saw that you guys actually cracked the top 25?

"We don't try to let it bother us too much, we could be number one or twenty-five, it doesn't matter we're concentrating on the next game which is North Carolina."


Do you think teams around the country are going to take you more seriously now that you guys are a Top 25 team?

"I hope they take us a little more seriously, now teams around the nation can look at South Florida and say they're in the top 25, they're all about business now. We won't roll over, they actually have to come and play us."


Talk about the challenges that face being in the top 25.
Well now we're not the underdog any more; we're one of the teams in the top 25 and we're one of the teams in the BCS now. It kind of takes the pressure off of our shoulders a little bit."


Talk about the differences of not being the underdog going into games.

"Now we're going into the game ranked now, teams can't just come in and say we're going to beat these guys. They have to come in and they actually have to play us now. [Coach] Leavitt doesn't really talk about us being ranked he's worried about things we need to get done. We really don't worry about all of that. We're just worried about the [next game]."


They say that Miami, Florida State and Florida are in the Big 3. When does South Florida enter that conversation?

"I thought we were already in the Big 3, I didn't know Miami was still in there [laughs]. I didn't know anything about that. People have their own opinions about the Big 3; so we really don't listen to it, we just play the games. It doesn't affect us at all."


By looking at the polls, do you believe you're number 2?

"A lot of people are recognizing us more now and watching us play on T.V. We're beating ranked teams and I'm glad they picked us number 2 behind Florida. I think we can be in front of Florida, but everybody has their own opinions."


Did you see the papers today?

"I was surprised we were even in it. I thought I was gonna' see Tim Tebow or somebody else in the paper."


What type of attention do you guys get around campus now that you've beaten Auburn and are in the Top 25?

"The students are a lot happier, today I heard a student in my class say that "finally South Florida is in the top 25, for two years its been pissing him off that they weren't in there."  He was really happy about it."


After making the highlight reel last week in Auburn, do you think a lot more people are noticing you?

"I mean they do but I'm just out there to play and help my team out there win the games. Since I've been on campus people have been saying "hey man I seen you in the top 5 plays making that catch." I say thank you, I appreciate it, but you know me; I'm not the flashy type of guy. I just go out there and play."

Do you think people are just jumping on the bandwagon?

"I don't know, some people have been sticking with us for the last two or three years but I think some people are jumping on the bandwagon."


Do you think this attention is going to pull people from the community to the games and not just people at USF?

"I think it is. I was talking to Coach Canales, he said that since we're in the Top 25 we should have a lot more people in the seats. South Florida is now a BCS ranked team, before we had seats filled but come Saturday I think you'll see a lot more seats filled because we cracked the Top 25."


You guys play well at home but does it dilute the atmosphere when the stadium is only filled at half-capacity, compared to Auburn?

"Well, Auburn is another story; they sellout every game. I guess it does in a way. We just hope that we get more seats filled this year because we're [ranked] in the BCS now."


With NC and West Virginia coming up, did the bye week come at a right time for you?

"Actually it did because a lot of the players were bruised up and their legs were worn out a bit so it was good. Now we have fresh legs and we're ready to go this week."


In your years here, you've only had a few noon kickoffs and this Saturday is a noon kickoff. How does that change for you?

"If we have noon games [Coach] Leavitt takes us to a hotel on Fridays to get us away from any distractions. We play in the heat so it doesn't really matter what time we play. It doesn't affect us at all."


In last years Carolina game, you got things started a little bit; can you talk a little bit about that?

"Last year when we faced them, they were a really good team and now they have [Coach] Butch Davis, they're about speed now. So the difference between now and last year is that they have a little more speed on the defense now compared to last year. It's gonna' be a good game Saturday."


What do you know about the corners from North Carolina after playing them last year?

"They got two redshirt freshmen coming in, Williams and Burney. They're really aggressive, a lot more aggressive than the corners last year. North Carolina played a lot of Cover-3 [before], now they are going to play some man [coverage]. They people they have [including] the backups are freshmen. We're going to try to take advantage of it."


Have you watched a lot of film this week? 

"Yeah, they do a lot of blitzes and stunts that we saw last year but they're not going to do it this year since they saw what we can do in that type of situation."


Since you played with Nate Allen in high school, can you tell me how it was playing together before college?

"I first started playing with him my sophomore year. He played quarterback his entire life and safety. He played both sides of the ball. Growing up with him and playing with him has been a blessing. The kid is smart and he knows the game. He plays hard and has a good background. I'm glad he came here. I was trying to get him here because I came here; he did and stuff just clicked from there."


How well do you think he has played safety since he came here as a quarterback?

"Well I knew he wasn't going to play quarterback when he got here because Coach [Leavitt] was talking about moving him to safety. Nate adapts quickly to the game, he picked up all of the plays really quick. He got into the rotation really quick and when he started getting it down Coach [Leavitt] started putting him in the games."


At what point did you realize that you had a great quarterback throwing you the ball?

"I knew that Matt was talented when he came in. Me and Matt worked a lot together, he started doing stuff I've never seen. I said "Wow! This boy can play! [laughs]" Its nothing new to me because this kid can play. Matt's smart and is pretty quick on his feet.  He's humble back there and he doesn't panic. He's a real smart kid once he has the ball in his hands. This year he is sitting in the pocket more and last year he was scrambling out the pocket a lot more. Even though we're young we're definitely growing together."


Did the fact that Auburn lost disappoint you a little bit?

"I was actually going for Mississippi State. I really don't like Auburn too much. I'm glad that Mississippi State won that game."


Does it take anything away from the victory?

"Not really, I watched the whole it looked like they were still having trouble with the same things from last week."


Did you watch any college football games on Saturday?

"Yes I did, I watched the Louisville and Kentucky game and I'm glad Kentucky beat Louisville.  I saw Cincinnati blow out some team. I watched Rutgers blow out some team. They really haven't played anybody yet but they're still winning games. I'm glad Kentucky beat Louisville though, we were really happy about that."


Didn't you want Louisville undefeated and ranked high when you face them?

"It doesn't really matter to us. They have to play us sooner or later. Me, Nate [Allen] and Colby [Erskin] watched the game and they have a couple weaknesses in the secondary. That to us is an advantage. "


Did you watch the UCF-Texas game?

"Yes I did, they played a really tough game. They're a lot better than they were last year. They're a tougher group and more aggressive now. They did pretty good on Saturday. When we play them it's going to be really a good game. The place will be a riot. They'll be ready to play and I know we're gonna' come out ready to play so it will be a pretty good game."


Speaking of teams on the schedule, did you catch any of the FAU-Minnesota game?

"No, I didn't watch that game. Who won that game? Wow! FAU won that game. Anybody can be beaten and I'm glad that they won that game."


Do you feel there is more parity in college football with all these early upsets?

"I think this is the year of the upsets. Notre Dame is 0-3 this year, Michigan needed to win that game. Louisville [already] lost and UCLA lost. There are some top teams that have gotten upset. Anybody can be beaten."

Do you think that college football is changing?

"Yeah, I think its changing. It's not just the same top teams anymore. There are different teams up there. Kentucky is ranked, and I've seen some teams in there that I haven't seen last year. It is definitely changing."


Do you have any bulletin material for North Carolina?

"I think we'll win the game but it will be a good game. We'll beat North Carolina and that's all I'm going to say. We'll find out on Saturday."


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