2008 USF Preview
2008 USF Defense
USF Depth Chart
2007 CFN USF Preview
Head coach: Jim Leavitt
12th season: 79-47
Off. 32, Def. 25, ST 5
Lettermen Lost: 19
Best USF Players
1. DE George Selvie, Jr.
2. QB Matt Grothe, Jr.
3. LB Tyrone McKenzie, Sr.
4. FS Nate Allen, Jr.
5. RB Mike Ford, Soph.
6. OG Ryan Schmidt, Sr.
7. DT Aaron Harris, Jr.
8. LB Brouce Mompremier, Sr.
9. WR Carlton Mitchell, Soph.
10. OT Marc Dile, Sr.
2008 Record: 0-0
Sept. 5 at UCF
Sept. 12 Kansas
Sept. 20 at FIU
Sept. 27 at NC State
Oct. 2 Pitt
Oct. 11 OPEN DATE
Oct. 18 Syracuse
Oct. 25 at Louisville
Oct. 30 at Cincinnati
Nov. 8 OPEN DATE
Nov. 15 Rutgers
Nov. 22 Connecticut
Nov. 29 OPEN DATE
Dec. 6 at West Virginia
at Auburn W 26-23 OT
West Virginia W 21-13
at Florida Atlantic
UCF W 64-12
at Connecticut L 22-15
Louisville W 55-17
at Pitt W 48-37
Dec. 31 Oregon L 56-21
Although the Bulls have won nine games in each of the last two seasons
and haven’t missed a bowl game since 2004, there’s a feeling of
unfinished business around Tampa.
USF unexpectedly rose to No. 2 in the polls last year following its
scintillating, nationally-televised win over West Virginia, and then
floated back to earth with a three-game losing streak and a 56-21 Sun
Bowl loss to Oregon to close out with a mega-clunk. Head coach Jim
Leavitt, never at a loss for intensity, is determined to get his team
back into the national discussion.
Translation: Any Bull dogging it in the offseason won’t have a job in
While South Florida showed signs of growing pains in 2007, it remains a
program on the rise and has everything in place to become one of college
football’s biggest players. With each passing year, the talent level
increases and the national exposure and attention continues to come.
This fall, the Bulls have as many guaranteed national TV games as any
Big East team, testament to their growth as a media darling. The extra
attention works wonders for recruiting and ticket sales, but the days of
sneaking up on opponents are long gone.
For a change, the South Florida offense enters a season with fewer
question marks than the defense, and now it has to be more consistent.
Tireless QB Matt Grothe is back as the offensive leader, while the skill
positions welcome back the top four running backs and top four
pass-catchers. After averaging nearly 35 points a game, the Bulls have
the ingredients to be even more prolific. They might have to be in the
The defense, the catalyst for the program’s recent success, has pressing
needs at nose tackle, middle linebacker, and cornerback that need to be
addressed before the opener. The onus falls on underrated defensive
coordinator Wally Burnham to come up with the answers by plugging a
handful of first-time starters into the lineup.
South Florida must prove it can handle lofty expectations because it
shows no signs of going away. The young program with the vast upside is
looking to add another brick in its foundation by playing in another
bowl game, preferably in January. Leavitt won’t settle for anything
What to watch for on offense: Grothe has led the Bulls in rushing
the last two years, a double-edged sword for the program. While his
dual-threat potential ignites the offense, at just 6-0 and 215 pounds,
do you really want your franchise taking so much pounding every week?
Grothe will get much-needed help on the ground from RB Mike Ford, who
debuted with 645 yards and 12 touchdowns on 138 carries. The passing
game welcomes back a talented receiving corps that includes Carlton
Mitchell, Jessie Hester, and Taurus Johnson, who each caught four
touchdown passes. Grothe, however, needs to help himself by improving
his reads and cutting back on a bloated interception total.
What to watch for on defense: Although the departures of LB Ben
Moffitt and corners Mike Jenkins and Trae Williams have the defense in
transition, the unit has enough returning talent to land on its feet. Of
course, it helps that All-America DE George Selvie will be back to
torment quarterbacks coming off the edge. Regardless of the names on the
jersey, the Bulls will be fast, well-coached, and prone to creating
turnovers. Losing the cover skills of Jenkins and Williams, however,
will stifle the defense’s ability to turn the safeties loose on
The team will be far better if… the defense maintains a high
level of performance. While the offense continues making progress, it’s
the D that drives the Bulls’ success. When the team allowed 30 or more
points a year ago, it went 1-3, proof that the program wasn’t
constructed to compete in shootouts. South
Florida needs players, such as LB Tyrone McKenzie, S Nate Allen, and DT
Aaron Harris, to evolve into bona fide Big East stars that can attract
some attention away from the sack-happy Selvie.
The Bulls catch a nice break playing just three Big East road games, but
two are within five days of each other against Louisville and Cincinnati
in late October, and the third is at West Virginia in December. Going to Morgantown in the cold won't be a plus for the warm weather
team. Hosting Kansas early on could put Jim Leavitt's club on the
national map with a win, while a trip to NC State could be far tougher
than it would've been last year. Non-conference road trips to UCF and
FIU are hardly going to be true away games considering they're in-state,
but they could be vital for recruiting.
Best offensive player:
QB Matt Grothe. His spirals aren’t always the tightest and his size
isn’t prototypical, but in two years, Grothe has become the uncontested
face of the South Florida. A modern-day Doug Flutie, he’s an emotional
leader that can tuck it and run or go up top to one of his big
receivers. Grothe’s willingness to take a hit and lower his shoulder to
pick up a first down has earned him the admiration of his teammates.
Best defensive player: DE George Selvie. Selvie opened eyes as a
freshman. As a sophomore, he made them bulge. One of the most explosive
ends in the country, he erupted for a nation’s-high 31.5 tackles for
loss and 14.5 sacks, commanding constant double teams. An All-American
who’s just a few years removed from being a center, Selvie’s a
three-down guy that’ll also pitch in on running downs. He’s such a
disruptive force, everyone on the defense benefits from his presence.
Key players to a successful season: CBs Jerome Murphy and Tyller
Roberts. There’s no simple way to replace Mike Jenkins and Trae
Williams, a pair of NFL corners who formed one of the best tandems in
the nation. The Bulls gave up yards a year ago, but also picked off 23
passes and were No. 8 nationally in pass efficiency defense. The good
news is that Murphy and Roberts have 62 games of experience between
them. The bad news is that they’ve started just one game apiece.
The season will be a success if ... South Florida plays in a name
brand bowl game. Although it doesn’t necessarily have to be a BCS bowl
game, the Bulls are good enough to finish second in the Big East, and
contend for a spot in the Gator Bowl. After starting so fast a year ago,
USF faded, finishing in a third place tie with Cincinnati. This year’s
objective is to avoid the peaks and valleys, while remaining in the
league title hunt late in November.
Key game: Dec. 6 at West Virginia. South Florida has reached a
point in its evolution where it can legitimately dream about a Big East
championship and a BCS bowl game. To get there, however, the Bulls will
have to go through Morgantown and league favorite West Virginia.
They’ve won the last two meetings with the ‘eers, so intimidation is not
going to be a factor.
2007 Fun Stats:
- Rushing TDs: USF 30 – Opponents 8
- First quarter: USF 112 – Opponents 65
- Penalties: USF 112 for 937 yards – Opponents 95 for 780 yards