Sunday links: Grothe, Selvie getting younger?
There aren't as many four-year stars in college football as there used to be, so we're hearing a lot of "Matt Grothe is still playing college football?" comments in the last week or two. Here's a new twist on that -- writer Ryan Finley of the Arizona Republic, one of the AP top 25 voters to rank the Bulls in the preseason, runs through his ballot with a line for each team:
"25 South Florida. Bulls will be led by a pair of Benjamin Button-ish vets: QB Matt Groethe and DE George Selvie are both back for another — and, we think, final — season in South Florida."
Yes, one of the three voters who think the most of USF doesn't know how to spell Grothe's name. And "Button," I should point out, may be the longest two hours of my life, and I say that having covered five USF spring football games.
More links for the last Sunday before the Bulls' 2009 season begins ...
-- Big win for USF volleyball at Miami on Saturday night for a tournament championship. The last time the Bulls beat Miami, it was 1977, so far back USF's records don't have scores for the games. USF had lost the last six meetings, winning a combined three games in those six matches.
-- Reading more about Wofford's offense, which they call the "Wingbone," a hybrid of the triple-option and shotgun-option offenses. Here's a great blog post that diagrams the offense and has a Youtube highlight video from a 2007 playoff game against Montana that shows the offense at work.
Jim Leavitt has been quick to point out that Wofford gave a good South Carolina team a scare last year -- it was a three-point game with two minutes to play before the Gamecocks put away a 23-13 win, and two years earlier, Wofford lost 27-20 at South Carolina.
At the same time, Wofford's leading rusher and starting quarterback graduated after combining for 1,878 yards and 33 touchdowns last season, so they'll have a new fullback -- Eric Breitenstein, who Mike Ford has been simulating this week -- and a new halfback in Mike Rucker, a 5-8, 185-pound back who is being played by speedy freshman Derrick Hopkins in practice.
Oh, and as a wild coincidence, USF's defensive staff has experience against Wofford's offense -- coordinator Joe Tresey faced the Terriers twice while running the defense at Georgia Southern in 2004-05. Georgia Southern dominated in 2004, winning 58-14, but then lost 21-17 to Wofford in 2005.
It's a unique offense to stop, unlike anything the Bulls will see or have seen in recent years, but what you'll hear this week is that stopping the option comes down to "assignment football" -- understanding a scheme and sticking to specific responsibilities.
-- Looking ahead a week, Western Kentucky has been labeled as the worst team in Division I-A football, but it's also about as young a college football team as you'll find, with 55 freshmen on the roster, accounting for 65 percent of the team. Coming off a 2-10 season and picked to finish last in the Sun Belt, the Hilltoppers shouldn't present a challenge beyond the game being on the road. WKU's stadium only holds about 22,000 fans by the way -- any readers here going to the game? I'm flying into Nashville and making the hour drive up from there ...
-- This year is the last chapter in former USF quarterback Carlton Hill's college career -- he's trying to unseat a returning starter at Miles College, a Division II school in Alabama where he sat out last season.
-- An assistant professor at USF, Lisa Hansen, has been named to the Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame.
-- Collegefootballnews.com has a little motivation for Leavitt, who's mentioned in a rundown of 50 observations on 50 coaches. They write:
"We may have seen the best of Jim Leavitt. Hey, as an architect, he’s been nothing short of brilliant, taking South Florida from infancy to the Big East. Since flooring the nation by reaching No. 2 nationally two years ago, however, his Bulls haven’t fulfilled raised expectations. In a what-have-you-done-lately world, it’s time for him to start getting USF over the hump"
-- More bulletin-board disrespect? The Tennessean's David Climer writes about the BCS and suggestions to improve the system.
"Jettison the Big East: Look, this isn't basketball. The Big Least managed to get grandfathered into the BCS when nobody was watching," he writes. Later: "College football is all about current events. No Big East team is ranked in the preseason Top 25 in the two polls that are out. The Mountain West is a superior conference but does not automatically get a team into a BCS bowl."
-- And Connecticut freshman receiver Dwayne Difton, who had committed to USF before re-opening his recruitment, tells the Greenwich Time (great newspaper name) that he "jumped the gun a little bit" in choosing the Bulls.
-- No catches for the Chiefs' Taurus Johnson or the Jets' Huey Whittaker in their preseason NFL games Saturday night, and no tackles for the Jets' Craig Kobel or the Eagles' Trae Williams this week. The Colts' Chad Simpson had three carries for 12 yards, and Andre Hall and Houston play Monday night.
-- USF should have its first official depth chart unveiled later Sunday -- I'll be out for a while but will check back with something on that later on ...