Bulls debut in AP poll at No. 19
USF is ranked No. 19 in the preseason Associated Press poll, the first time the Bulls have ever been ranked entering the season.
The Bulls, who are also ranked No. 21 in the preseason USA Today coaches poll, are one of only two state teams ranked in the initial AP poll, with Florida ranked No. 5. Two other Big East teams are ranked, with West Virginia No. 8 and Pittsburgh No. 25.
As was the case in the coaches poll, USF made a huge jump from the final 2007 poll, which had the Bulls unofficially 34th based on the total votes. USF's jump of 15 spots is the largest of any team in the top 20, ahead of West Virginia (13 spots), Wisconsin (11 spots) and Texas Tech (10 spots). No. 24 Alabama and No. 25 Pittsburgh did not receive any votes in the final poll last season.
USF held its only full scrimmage of the preseason Saturday, marked by several notable individual plays but overall a showing that had Bulls coach Jim Leavitt aware of how much his team needs to work on in the two weeks before USF opens its season at home Aug. 30 against Tennesee-Martin.
"Nobody fired me up today. ... We're just banging away at it," Leavitt said. "It was (first-team units) vs. (second-team units) until I got mad, and then we went 1s vs. 1s. I didn't think we were sharp. ... We're not there yet."
Leavitt said that true freshman defensive tackle Cory Grissom, praised by coaches in the first two weeks and expected to contribute this season, suffered an ankle injury and had to be taken off the field. "He was the only one that I knew might be a serious injury," Leavitt said.
Receiver A.J. Love caught a long touchdown pass from quarterback Matt Grothe, who also connected with receiver Dontavia Bogan for a score. Running back Jamar Taylor broke through for a goal-line touchdown late in the scrimmage.
"That's disturbing," defensive coordinator Wally Burnham said. "We didn't tackle well at times. I know they're tired and it's been two weeks, but it's no excuse. We have to get mentally tougher."
Burnham said the defense forced at least two fumbles, cornerback Tyller Roberts had an interception, and Quenton Washington blocked a kick. Leavitt said he had to take defensive end George Selvie out after he got three quick sacks, though they were against an unnamed true freshman.
Offensive coordinator Greg Gregory called it an "up and down" scrimmage, saying he'd know more once he'd reviewed tape but felt that Grothe played "real well."
"We're still struggling in different spots, but did some good things," Gregory said.
Gregory said Grothe and senior Grant Gregory (his son) worked with the No. 1 offense, then true freshman B.J. Daniels worked with the second-team offense.
"B.J. started off with the 2s, but I had to use Grant with the 2s a lot because B.J. wasn't ready yet," Gregory said. "We put B.J. back in at the end. We were trying to get a little more poise in there, because the 2s were going against the (No. 1 defense), which made it real tough."
Leavitt said several key players, such as center Jake Griffin and kickers Delbert Alvarado and Maikon Bonani, were held out of the scrimmage. "There were a lot of guys that didn't go today that need to (play)," Leavitt said.