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Sporting News: Grothe, South Florida primed for opener against Elon

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Grothe, South Florida primed for opener against Elon

Posted: August 31, 2007

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- South Florida coach Jim Leavitt isn't concerned about complacency creeping into Matt Grothe's game.

No matter who the Bulls are playing.

When last season's Big East rookie of the year begins his sophomore campaign Saturday night against Elon of the Football Championship Subdivision, formerly known as Division I-AA, Leavitt expects Grothe to take up where he left off as a freshman.

"The best thing about Matt is that he knows he's got to get better," Leavitt said. "I think the thing that would be toughest is that if you had a quarterback that thinks he's there, and he's better than everyone else, and that there's not room for improvement."

Grothe was one of the most effective quarterbacks in the nation a year ago, throwing for 2,576 yards and 15 touchdowns and also leading the Bulls in rushing with 622 yards and nine TDs en route to a 9-4 record.

South Florida received votes in The Associated Press preseason poll for the first time in school history, and Grothe is one of the reasons why.

The Bulls also return three of their top four receivers from last season and a speedy defense led by cornerbacks Trae Williams and Mike Jenkins has the potential to give USF a shot at winning its first Big East title.

And the team's schedule, featuring September dates against Auburn, North Carolina and West Virginia, is set up to catapult the Bulls into the Top 25 for the first time if they can get off to a strong start.

But Grothe is not taking anything for granted. He appreciates the attention, but stressed a lot of hard work is ahead.

"We just have to wait and see what happens. ... We didn't start well last year," the quarterback said. "I mean we finished well, but we need to go out and start well."

Elon was 5-6 a year ago in its first season under coach Pete Lembo, the school's best record since joining the Southern Conference in 2002.

After weeks of practicing against each other, Grothe and his teammates are happy to finally face another team.

"We try to go out there and simulate game day situations just playing around, but we can't because we don't see the other team's colors," receiver Amarri Jackson said.

"I can't wait," Grothe added. "It's been a long summer and we've been anticipating this. And honestly, I don't care who we play as long as it's not ourselves or the practice team."

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What's nice about this season is that the whole crew - coach, assts, players, support (cheerleaders/dolls) will get so much more exposure this year it will be incredible. 

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