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USF's season in Grothe's hands


ChiTownBull

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http://www.bradenton.com/sports/story/758685.html

USF's season in Grothe's hands

By RYAN T. BOYD

rboyd@bradenton.com

TAMPA --

He's a nifty runner. In the open field, he's slippery and possesses enough speed to pull away from a linebacker or safety.

But he'll fumble at some of the most untimely moments.

He has decent arm strength and can hit a wide receiver in stride for a touchdown.

But, at other times, he'll throw an interception on a simple 15-yard out route when his team is driving for a score.

That's the knock on Matt Grothe.

South Florida's junior quarterback will dazzle you with a spectacular run one minute. The next minute, he'll have you asking yourself: Why did he attempt that throw? Or, how did he fumble?

In 2008, the Bulls will only go as far as Grothe can take them.

"He's got to protect the football more," USF coach Jim Leavitt said last week at the Florida Sports Writers Association Media Days. "He makes so many plays when he's scrambling and releases the ball at the end. He's always got his eyes downfield, and I don't want to take that away from him. He just needs to know how to protect the football and still know how to be aggressive and move the chains."

The young man had no problems moving the chains last season.

The 2007 campaign saw Grothe pass for 2,670 yards with 14 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. He also rushed for 872 yards and 10 scores as the Bulls posted a 9-4 record and appeared in The Associated Press Top 25 poll for the first time in school history.

In contrast, after starting the season with six straight wins, South Florida countered with a three-game losing streak midway through the season.

During the skid, Grothe threw two touchdowns and seven interceptions in narrow losses to Big East Conference foes Rutgers, Connecticut and Cincinnati.

But he bounced back to lead the Bulls to three consecutive victories to end the regular season. Overall, Grothe had a productive season.

He was on the Heisman Trophy watch list early in the season, and he displayed a shifty running style, which made SportsCenter's Top 10 Plays a few times.

Grothe's 80-yard touchdown run against Pittsburgh was the longest scoring run of the Bulls' season.

This season could be even better.

Grothe has a 17-8 record as a starter, so experience is there.

He'll have a solid offensive line, an improved receiving corps and an experienced trio of running backd - Mike Ford, a former Sarasota High standout, Ben Williams and Jamar Taylor - to lean on.

But don't expect the Bulls' playmaker to stop making plays.

"He will continue to run the ball," Leavitt said. "I'm not going to sit here and say we are going to hand the ball off more. Matt is going to run the ball. He just has to hang on to it. When you have the ball in your hands that many times, things happen. He understands what he needs to do."

And what he does determines the kind of season the Bulls will have. South Florida was in the national title conversation for a small portion of last season after the school climbed to No. 2 in the country.

This year, USF embarks on its fourth season as a member of the Big East, and they've never won a conference title. That's Leavitt's top priority before a national championship can even be discussed. If a conference championship is to happen in '08, Grothe must take the next step.

"If we are going to win a championship," Leavitt said. "He's going to have to do that this year."

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I've never thought Matt had problems hanging onto the ball, though he does sometimes force his throws when we get behind.  The simple way to correct this problem is to never get behind  :D.

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I've never thought Matt had problems hanging onto the ball, though he does sometimes force his throws when we get behind.  The simple way to correct this problem is to never get behind  :D.

contrary to his old habits...

remember his first season--what, 5 come from behind wins?

if I remember correctly he was known in HS for his comebacks.

I just think he had/has to adjust his style and habits for this level of competition.

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Great summary of Grothe, I hope he reads it and comes out and surprises everyone and changes some of his techniques.  This will screw with the opposing defense.  If he had running backs that made progress it would improve his need to improvise so much.

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The bigger problem for Grothe is learning how and when to take his lumps and take not give up huge yardage on sacks.  Other than the Cincinnati game I never had a problem with any of his ints.  His not learning to just throw the ball away or worse yet, his running backwards for an additional 10 yard loss is a much bigger problem than the majority of his INTs.

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MG may be the one at the wheel, but he'll have more tools to work with, offensively, than he's had in the past.  With a more experienced OL and a solid Mike Ford, he'll not be as pressed to force passes that have led to the interceptions in previous seasons.  I think MG will rise to the challenge, regardless.  With another year of maturity, I'm feeling very confident he'll make better decisions and go a great job this season.

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Grothe is extremely important. But what will keep him more relaxed is having Ford pound the ball for a consistent 4-5 yds. So we aren't in 3rd and 10 situations every 3rd down. Ford is the key to this offense being consistent and with that it will keep a lot of pressure off of Grothe to keep our drive going.

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Matt proved last year that he is most dangerous on the run. Have a feeling that teams are going to watch the tapes force him to beat them with his arm instead. It's his junior year...he should be up to the challenge. That means making good reads, showing some patience, and not throwing any of those lame duck passes that just hang up there.

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What a tough job for the coaches.  How do you make a guy that half the time is a highlight film become more conservative at the right times.  Runs like crazy but drops the ball.  Part of his strength is making that crazy play.  I don't know but lets hope its the experience that makes him make the right plays.

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think Favre mentality

sometime the gambles payoff in big ways and espn loves it!

other times it's a bad pick and he should have never thrown the pass in the first place or should have never gotten sacked so deep (think rutgers game) however a lot of times he spins out and makes a great play (think wvu game).

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