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The Ledger: Forget Everything but Tar Heels, Leavitt Says


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Forget Everything but Tar Heels, Leavitt Says

By Rick Brown

The Ledger

While the recent fortunes of the University of South Florida's football team - winning at Auburn, national rankings for the first time in the program's history - have caught national attention, there is no mistaking the mind-set of head coach Jim Leavitt.

North Carolina.

Yes, the 23rd/24th-ranked Bulls are 2-0 and have what could be a Big East mega game Sept. 28 against No. 6 West Virginia. Still, the coach has his eyes on a more immediate threat.

North Carolina.

No, not the basketball team, but the 1-2 gridiron team that holds the same Tar Heels name.

It's North Carolina, coming Saturday for an ESPN televised contest at Raymond James Stadium.

It would be easy for a program like USF - still in the clouds after upsetting Auburn and with West Virginia on the horizon - to fall victim to an improving program that's hungry for respect. Leavitt is making sure everyone realizes that.

"North Carolina. We've got North Carolina this weekend," a surly Leavitt said at his Tuesday press conference. "We're really excited about them. North Carolina. That's all we . . . North Carolina.

"(The players) seem to be focusing in on North Carolina pretty good," he said. "That's all. They see how good North Carolina is. They're pretty focused."

This is not your typical North Carolina dreadful football team. Guided by former Miami coach Butch Davis, the Tar Heels have the second-best passing offense in the Atlantic Coast Conference and are scoring 29.3 points per game. The team's two losses have been by a combined five points.

USF players say being ranked is nice but they are focused on the task at hand.

"It's real big," said USF defensive end George Selvie, who leads the nation with 5.5 sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss. "I was excited about it, being one of the top teams in the nation as of right now. But we've still got to win games.

"To stay ranked all you have to do is win," he said. "So we take it one game at a time every week. North Carolina is the biggest game of our lives.

"Everybody wants to look at other games, big games coming up. Coach Leavitt really makes us focus on the game that's ahead. We have to play this game. If we lose this game, the rest of the other games don't matter. We've got to win every week to be consistent."

Being consistent is a big concern for the Bulls. Senior receiver Amarri Jackson was so disappointed with his team's practice on Monday that he gave some of the players a tongue lashing.

"I didn't like (Monday)," he said shaking his head. "Offensively, we weren't clicking on all cylinders. I told them we've really got to pick it up because we really didn't execute.

" I started to think was being ranked 23rd going to our heads? I don't know if being ranked is a good thing for us.

"I don't think we've done anything," he said. "We still have 10 more games, 11 if we make it to a bowl.

"We have to do like we've been doing the last three years - that is to work hard and focus."


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amarri is becoming quite the leader on this team.  did anyone notice during the auburn game after Alverado missed his 4th FG that the only person next to him on the bench was Amarri, giving him some words of encouragement.

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thats why i like Amarri, he bleeds green and gold and just wants to see the team improve and get better, hes also not afaird to get into your face about your performance on the field.

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