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Know Your Foe (and its beat writer): South Florida


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http://blogs.cjonline.com/index.php?entry=7900

After the wild popularity* of last week's Know Your Foe on Louisiana Tech, I'm back with Tampa Tribune beat writer Brett McMurphy, who covers South Florida.

*This, perhaps, is not the right word.

We met over some peach-flavored hookah and Turkish tea to discuss South Florida's secondary, Bill Snyder's influence, how Tertavian Ingram got away and McMurphy's relationship with Bill Self.

TC: Are you like me, thinking, "You know, when they scheduled this game, I'll bet neither school had any idea what kind of a game they were getting themselves into"? With Kansas, nobody really saw this surge coming. What that the case at USF, or has there been a sense that the Bulls were on the cusp for a few years?

BM: “When they scheduled it, I’m sure neither school could have guessed that the other would end up being this good. If so, they might not have scheduled it. USF has been building and building its program, but I don’t think anyone could have expected last year’s surge up to No. 2 in the rankings. The key for the program is to stay in the national rankings year-in, year-out and, at least right now, there seems no indication they won’t do that.â€

TC: Two games in, it is starting to look like Kansas doesn't run the ball well, but can do whatever it wants to through the air. So how good is South Florida in coverage?

BM: “So far, so good, but keep in mind who they have played so far – Tennessee Martin and UCF. USF ranks fifth in the country after two games, allowing only 95 yards passing a game. But that obviously will change after Friday. I’m not sure yet how good the defense is - yet. USF’s defensive coordinator and secondary coach both told me before the season they thought the secondary would be the strength of the defense – and that’s after losing two CBs to the NFL Draft. We’ll find out soon enough if that’s true.â€

TC: Now that Mark Mangino is essentially daring teams to try to slow KU's passing game, will Jim Leavitt take him up on that offer or focus on stopping the run like Florida International and Louisiana Tech did?

BM: “USF is very comfortable playing in a nickel package. The best way to beat USF is by running the football with a power running game. If they give up on trying to run, they’re probably playing into USF’s strength. Maybe Mangino has been sandbagging the first two games and saving the running game for this week?â€

TC: Seems like South Florida is pretty comfortable lighting it up. Do the Bulls want a shootout, or will they try to shorten the game?

BM: “They would probably fare better in a shootout. They’ve lost 20 consecutive games when they have scored 20 points or less. So that’s been the magical number for USF’s opponents, holding the Bulls under 21. But I think it will be hard for anyone to hold them under 20 this year – they’ve got 10 returning starters from last year’s offense and have already topped 500 yards in consecutive games this year.â€

TC: Like Mangino, Leavitt is a former Bill Snyder assistant. Let me guess: Practices are ultra private, Leavitt doesn't discuss injuries, doesn't reveal much about his depth chart and is paranoid about the media?

BM: “Who did you talk to already? That pretty much sums it up.â€

TC: What's it like on campus at USF? My impression is one of a huge, urban commuter school.

BM: “It has been called a dreaded “commuter†school, but it has improved a lot in recent years. Now USF’s campus is nowhere as nice as KU’s campus (I’ve actually been there a few times), but it is getting better and better.â€

TC: Your coverage from the Central Florida game indicates that UCF-USF is a pretty bitter rivalry. How did that happen, and are people generally angry that the series isn't renewed?

BM: “Depends on who you talk to. Talk to UCF fans and they want the rivalry, talk to USF fans and you get mixed responses. Talk to the majority of USF players, except for QB Matt Grothe, and they want the game played. Talk to USF coach Jim Leavitt and he won’t directly answer the question, but he doesn’t want it played or it wouldn’t be ending after only four years.â€

TC: Where should Kansans go for food and beer and revelry?

BM: “If Bill Self is picking up the tab, go to Bern’s Steakhouse. When the Super Bowl is in Tampa, it’s booked the entire week. You can’t get in. Great steaks, a huge wine cellar (they’ll take you on a tour) and the entire second floor is the desert room. It’s pricey, but worth it. If Self’s not picking up the tab, then Lee Roy Selmon’s (yes, that Lee Roy Selmon) is a pretty good restaurant, located near the International Mall. That’s for eats. For college students looking for more of a liquid diet, there are tons of bars in Ybor City, the Hyde Park area in South Tampa, or Channelside near downtown Tampa. All of those are within a 15-minute drive of Raymond James Stadium, which is not located on campus.â€

TC: (Turn on your sarcasm meter) Does Jim Leavitt consider it a major blow to have let receiver Tertavian Ingram get away to Kansas? Did Leavitt even recruit Ingram?

BM: “USF had no shot at signing Ingram so they hired his high school coach Mike Simmonds as offensive line coach. Serious.â€

TC: What are your impressions of the state of Kansas and its people?

BM: “Great. Love it. I’m originally from Oklahoma and graduated from Oklahoma State during the glory years of OSU basketball – that’s right, when Bill Self played guard. Bill and Cindy are good friends, but now that Bill has his new contract, he won’t return my calls anymore. I can’t figure it out. I’ve had a chance to go to Kansas numerous times since I grew up in Oklahoma. I love that part of the country. The only things I don’t miss about living in that area of the country is the snow and tornados.â€

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"Desert room"?

Forget about knowing your foe's beat writer, get to know your editor.

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The writer / ediitor got it right:

Berns dessert room will be a desert after Mangino visits!!

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Monday, September 8. 2008

Know Your Foe (and its beat writer): South Florida

Posted by

Hawk Bloc

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Hawk BlocAfter the wild popularity* of last week's Know Your Foe on Louisiana Tech, I'm back with Tampa Tribune beat writer Brett McMurphy, who covers South Florida.

*This, perhaps, is not the right word.

We met over some peach-flavored hookah and Turkish tea to discuss South Florida's secondary, Bill Snyder's influence, how Tertavian Ingram got away and McMurphy's relationship with Bill Self.

TC: Are you like me, thinking, "You know, when they scheduled this game, I'll bet neither school had any idea what kind of a game they were getting themselves into"? With Kansas, nobody really saw this surge coming. What that the case at USF, or has there been a sense that the Bulls were on the cusp for a few years?

BM: “When they scheduled it, I’m sure neither school could have guessed that the other would end up being this good. If so, they might not have scheduled it. USF has been building and building its program, but I don’t think anyone could have expected last year’s surge up to No. 2 in the rankings. The key for the program is to stay in the national rankings year-in, year-out and, at least right now, there seems no indication they won’t do that.â€

TC: Two games in, it is starting to look like Kansas doesn't run the ball well, but can do whatever it wants to through the air. So how good is South Florida in coverage?

BM: “So far, so good, but keep in mind who they have played so far – Tennessee Martin and UCF. USF ranks fifth in the country after two games, allowing only 95 yards passing a game. But that obviously will change after Friday. I’m not sure yet how good the defense is - yet. USF’s defensive coordinator and secondary coach both told me before the season they thought the secondary would be the strength of the defense – and that’s after losing two CBs to the NFL Draft. We’ll find out soon enough if that’s true.â€

TC: Now that Mark Mangino is essentially daring teams to try to slow KU's passing game, will Jim Leavitt take him up on that offer or focus on stopping the run like Florida International and Louisiana Tech did?

BM: “USF is very comfortable playing in a nickel package. The best way to beat USF is by running the football with a power running game. If they give up on trying to run, they’re probably playing into USF’s strength. Maybe Mangino has been sandbagging the first two games and saving the running game for this week?â€

TC: Seems like South Florida is pretty comfortable lighting it up. Do the Bulls want a shootout, or will they try to shorten the game?

BM: “They would probably fare better in a shootout. They’ve lost 20 consecutive games when they have scored 20 points or less. So that’s been the magical number for USF’s opponents, holding the Bulls under 21. But I think it will be hard for anyone to hold them under 20 this year – they’ve got 10 returning starters from last year’s offense and have already topped 500 yards in consecutive games this year.â€

TC: Like Mangino, Leavitt is a former Bill Snyder assistant. Let me guess: Practices are ultra private, Leavitt doesn't discuss injuries, doesn't reveal much about his depth chart and is paranoid about the media?

BM: “Who did you talk to already? That pretty much sums it up.â€

TC: What's it like on campus at USF? My impression is one of a huge, urban commuter school.

BM: “It has been called a dreaded “commuter†school, but it has improved a lot in recent years. Now USF’s campus is nowhere as nice as KU’s campus (I’ve actually been there a few times), but it is getting better and better.â€

TC: Your coverage from the Central Florida game indicates that UCF-USF is a pretty bitter rivalry. How did that happen, and are people generally angry that the series isn't renewed?

BM: “Depends on who you talk to. Talk to UCF fans and they want the rivalry, talk to USF fans and you get mixed responses. Talk to the majority of USF players, except for QB Matt Grothe, and they want the game played. Talk to USF coach Jim Leavitt and he won’t directly answer the question, but he doesn’t want it played or it wouldn’t be ending after only four years.â€

TC: Where should Kansans go for food and beer and revelry?

BM: “If Bill Self is picking up the tab, go to Bern’s Steakhouse. When the Super Bowl is in Tampa, it’s booked the entire week. You can’t get in. Great steaks, a huge wine cellar (they’ll take you on a tour) and the entire second floor is the desert room. It’s pricey, but worth it. If Self’s not picking up the tab, then Lee Roy Selmon’s (yes, that Lee Roy Selmon) is a pretty good restaurant, located near the International Mall. That’s for eats. For college students looking for more of a liquid diet, there are tons of bars in Ybor City, the Hyde Park area in South Tampa, or Channelside near downtown Tampa. All of those are within a 15-minute drive of Raymond James Stadium, which is not located on campus.â€

TC: (Turn on your sarcasm meter) Does Jim Leavitt consider it a major blow to have let receiver Tertavian Ingram get away to Kansas? Did Leavitt even recruit Ingram?

BM: “USF had no shot at signing Ingram so they hired his high school coach Mike Simmonds as offensive line coach. Serious.â€

TC: What are your impressions of the state of Kansas and its people?

BM: “Great. Love it. I’m originally from Oklahoma and graduated from Oklahoma State during the glory years of OSU basketball – that’s right, when Bill Self played guard. Bill and Cindy are good friends, but now that Bill has his new contract, he won’t return my calls anymore. I can’t figure it out. I’ve had a chance to go to Kansas numerous times since I grew up in Oklahoma. I love that part of the country. The only things I don’t miss about living in that area of the country is the snow and tornados.â€

http://blogs.cjonline.com/index.php?entry=7900

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