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ESPN UTM v. USF Preview


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Sorry if this has been posted already...

7:30 PM ET, August 30, 2008

Raymond James Stadium , Tampa , FL

ESPN360.com

Tenn.-Martin-South Florida Preview

South Florida coach Jim Leavitt has noticed the differences around Tampa this season, such as rising ticket sales, his school's first-ever preseason ranking and the fact that he needed a microphone for his press conference.

"This is the first time in 13 years that I've heard my voice echo here like this," Leavitt said. "I don't know if that is good or bad."

A year after they burst onto the college football scene and rose to No. 2 by starting 6-0, the 19th-ranked Bulls will try to deal with high expectations for the first time as they begin their 2008 campaign by hosting Tennessee-Martin on Saturday.

South Florida's football program didn't begin play until 1997, and even then it spent its first four seasons as an independent in what was then called Division I-AA.

In just three seasons since joining the Big East, however, the Bulls have risen to national prominence, advancing to three straight bowl games and getting 11 first-place votes in the AP poll after their six-game winning streak to start last season. That run included a 26-23 win at Auburn and a 21-13 victory over West Virginia, which still nearly reached the BCS title game.

South Florida could only ride the momentum so far, however. After reaching No. 2, the Bulls lost three straight to squander any chance at a Big East title, then after rebounding to finish the regular season 9-3, they were on the wrong end of a 56-21 blowout against Oregon in the Sun Bowl.

That did little to dampen the enthusiasm in Tampa, but there are plenty of questions surrounding South Florida after its roller-coaster ride.

"Everyone's wondering what South Florida is going to do this year because here this team got up to No. 2, lost some games, and then they won a bunch of games, and then they got beat bad in a bowl game," Leavitt said. "So what kind of team is this going to be this year? Are they going to be like that team the first six games, or are they going to be like that team that finished in the bowl game? We'll see."

Having back perhaps their two most important players will certainly help. Junior quarterback Matt Grothe threw for 2,670 yards and ran for 872 more last season, totaling 24 touchdowns.

Junior defensive end George Selvie, meanwhile, led the nation with 31 1/2 tackles for loss last year, also ranking second with 14 1/2 sacks. Both marks were school records, earning him All-America honors.

"I think we are more excited than ever," Grothe said. "I know us, on the offensive side of the ball, are just ready to go. We just want to get out there and learn from the ups and downs from last year, and just go out and put ourselves in a position to win the Big East."

Both Grothe and Selvie were impressive in last season's opener, as the quarterback threw for 238 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions, while Selvie had four sacks and six tackles for loss as South Florida beat Elon 28-13.

The Bulls will face another FCS opponent in Tennessee-Martin, which lost its first six games last year before finishing 4-7. The teams have never met.

Dexter Anoka and Cade Thompson shared snaps at quarterback last year for the Skyhawks, and both are back to run the offense this season. Each threw for more than 1,000 yards and eight touchdowns last season.

Despite South Florida's 10-0 record against FCS opponents since jumping to the FBS in 2001, Leavitt isn't taking anything for granted against Tennessee-Martin. The Bulls will have five new starters in the fold for Saturday's contest.

"I imagine this will be a heck of a football game," the coach said. "We have a lot of guys that have not started a football game that are playing. And some other guys who are playing a number of snaps who haven't played a lot of football. How they play, how they respond to it will be interesting."

http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/preview?gameId=282430058

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It's always a heck of a ball game.

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Just hope it's not a super close game like last years home opener.

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"Heck of a game, i mean...these guys are really good, ya kno? And...we're really gonna have to play some good football to beat 'em, ya kno?"

Thats Leavitt for ya...

lol

GO BULLS!!!

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leavitt  is nuts and has no credibility when he says such things

this may dovetail in his failure to land area's best players:he is not believeable

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leavitt  is nuts and has no credibility when he says such things

this may dovetail in his failure to land area's best players:he is not believeable

your flat out crazy.  leavitt has done the impossible here at USF, yet you still find a way to belittle our coach.  don't you have somewhere be right now....isn't it time for Pete Carrol's sponge bath.

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leavitt  is nuts and has no credibility when he says such things

this may dovetail in his failure to land area's best players:he is not believeable

Seriously, son.  You shouldn't mumble so much because it is very rude and nobody can understand what you're saying.

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leavitt  is nuts and has no credibility when he says such things

this may dovetail in his failure to land area's best players:he is not believeable

Seriously, son.  You shouldn't mumble so much because it is very rude and nobody can understand what you're saying.

Oh, yeah. BTW  EVERY coach says that EVERY game will be "a heck of a ballgame"  and "we'll need to play some really good football to win."

I figured you'd know that.

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leavitt  is nuts and has no credibility when he says such things

this may dovetail in his failure to land area's best players:he is not believeable

Seriously, son.  You shouldn't mumble so much because it is very rude and nobody can understand what you're saying.

Oh, yeah. BTW  EVERY coach says that EVERY game will be "a heck of a ballgame"  and "we'll need to play some really good football to win."

I figured you'd know that.

It's clearly a lie to say it when a ranked team faces a 1-AA team that probably wont go .500 in 1-AA play.  Leavitt should say this game is a tune up and he hopes to get through it injury free.  Or something along those lines.

Smazza's got a little ground to stand on here.  Some recruits may want to hear the coach's optimism to win big games.  I'm sure some recruits would want to hear Leavitt confident about the Kansas game, and then prove it with the team.

There are a lot of variables, but it does lower Leavitt's credibility.  Now when he says we need to play great football against teams like KU, Pitt, and WV it wont have as much impact on players.  That could be a little of what happened against Rutgers last year.  Leavitt said we'll need to play our best to win... Well, no **** you say it every week.

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Just hope it's not a super close game like last years home opener.

I understand the concern about this but it won't be.

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