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South Florida coach says WVU to be great challenge

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MORGANTOWN  Coach Jim Leavitt thinks his South Florida football team faces a tough task against West Virginia on Saturday night in Tampa.

“It’s going to be a great challenge to us,†he said Monday on the Big East’s weekly media teleconference. “We’re going to have to play a great game like we did against Louisville.â€Â

The Bulls (3-3, 1-1) dealt the Cardinals their first loss, 45-14 on Sept. 24 at home. The Mountaineers (6-1, 3-0) registered a miraculous fourth-quarter rally and wound up beating UL by 46-44 in triple-overtime.

Leavitt admittedly was impressed as he saw WVU overcome a 24-7 deficit with only 8:15 left in regulation time.

“I think West Virginia played extremely hard,†he said. “I thought they played with great inspiration and energy.

“The Mountaineers have a great will about them. They’re s very good football team. That’s why they’re atop the Big East right now.â€Â

USF is coming off a 31-17 loss at Pitt Saturday.

“Obviously, we didn’t play well enough to win,†Leavitt said. “We moved the ball a little bit and had the ball in our possession a lot.

“We moved the ball in the fourth quarter to get to Pittsburgh’s 30-yard line three times, but came away with no points.â€Â

He explained that the Panthers did a nice job stripping the ball from USF’s running back, the quarterback lost a fumble and then threw an interception. All three turnovers set up Pitt touchdowns. “You can’t do those kind of things and win,†Leavitt lamented.

This will be WVU’s first-ever meeting with South Florida, which like Louisville is a new member of the Big East.

“It will be an emotional, physical game like they all are,†the coach said.

Leavitt found it difficult to trying to compare his team’s game against UL with that by WVU.

“To me, Louisville and West Virginia was just a fight from the opening snap all the way to the third overtime. Two great teams going at it.

“I can’t even compare the two games. Every game is so different.â€Â

Leavitt praised WVU’s tailback Steve Slaton and quarterback Pat White.

“How could you not be impressed by Slaton?†he said. “He’s playing awfully good right now.â€Â

The talented true freshmen rushed 31 times for 188 yards and five touchdowns. He also caught a 14-yard scoring shot from Adam Bednarik.

Asked about White, Leavitt said:

“Oh, my gosh! I was so impressed when he came out there (in the fourth quarter). The way he ran and threw,, this guy’s really good.

“He’s a heck of an athlete. He’s got great presence. It’s all there.â€Â

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