McCarney says he hasn't talked to 'Canes
EL PASO, Texas -- Defensive line coach Dan McCarney disputed a report from Sportingnews.com that said he had interviewed for the defensive coordinator job at Miami.
"I haven't talked to Miami or (head coach) Randy Shannon. All my time, energy and focus has been on the Sun Bowl and helping USF get its 10th win this season," said McCarney, who interviewed for the head coaching job at Northern Illinois earlier this month but did not get the job.
USF coach Jim Leavitt lost four assistant coaches to other schools last season and said he understands the interest in the former Iowa State coach.
"If they were smart, they'd grab him, because he's pretty good," said Leavitt, who said he understood when he hired McCarney this spring that his tenure with the Bulls "might be short-lived."
STOP THE RUN: Two of USF's three losses have come in games in which the Bulls allowed an opposing back to run for more than 150 yards, so it's crucial that the Bulls contain Oregon running back Jonathan Stewart, who led the Pac-10 in rushing with 1,469 yards and will be a focal point of the Ducks offense.
"It's very difficult to stop Stewart. That's got to be one of the keys," coach Jim Leavitt said. "Rutgers' (Ray Rice) had a lot of yards on us and Connecticut (Andre Dixon) had a number of yards and we lost both those games. I don't think anybody wants a team to come in and run the ball at will on you. It's very hard to win a football game, no matter who you play, like that."
With Oregon's top three quarterbacks injured, the Ducks are all the more likely to lean on Stewart. USF has also stifled some of the nation's top running backs, rendering West Virginia's Steve Slaton and Central Florida's Kevin Smith as nonfactors in Bulls victories.
"What you notice about Stewart is he has size (5-11, 230). You can't arm-tackle him, and when he gets out in the open, he's gone," Leavitt said. "He changes direction, he gets to a high speed quickly. He has a tremendous burst, and that concerns you."
KICKIN' IT: USF kicker and punter Delbert Alvarado has a new rap song about the Bulls' bowl trip and fans can hear it on USF's official site, gousfbulls.com. Alvarado performed on stage with running back Mike Ford during a Sun Bowl talent show on Wednesday night.
"He's pretty talented. I was surprised at the talent show at how good he was. I was pretty impressed," Leavitt said.
NO SURPRISE: Longtime Washington coach Don James, who will be honored Monday as a Sun Bowl Legend, played at Miami and was an assistant coach at Florida State from 1956-65 and said he isn't surprised to see another football program rising in the state as USF has.
"They said when I was in school that every four seconds, a family was moving to Florida. We thought it might sink," said James, who retired after the 1992 season. "There's probably more great football players there now than there are maybe even in Ohio or Texas."
GETTING WARMER: While Leavitt said Thursday's practice was the coldest in USF's history, the weather is expected to warm up over the weekend, with Sun Bowl chairman John Folmer calling for a kickoff temperature of 62 degrees. The Bulls practiced Friday in 40-degree weather, but the winds weren't nearly as severe as Thursday.
STILL A MYSTERY: Oregon remains secretive about its quarterback situation -- the teams' starting lineups were introduced at a lunch banquet Friday, and Oregon introduced both its options, redshirt freshmen Justin Roper and Cody Kempt. Both played in Oregon's loss to Oregon State, with Roper taking over after Kempt suffered a concussion.