Transcribed: Leavitt on Scott Van Pelt Show
You know it's a big win when Jim Leavitt starts making the rounds with natonal radio shows -- he was on ESPN Radio on Monday afternoon on the Scott Van Pelt show, talking about the Bulls' 17-7 win at Florida State on Saturday. Here's what he had to say:
SVP: Coach, I've got to be honest. When I heard Matt Grothe was done for the year with a knee injury, I thought that was the end of your season. Honestly, what did you expect out of your quarterback, B.J. Daniels, in Tallahassee on Saturday?
JL: Well, you know, I think about what we saw. He's a tremendous athlete, can throw the ball well. He's got a very strong arm. We watched him during two-a-days, and certainly in the year leading up, but this year in summer and two-a-days, he's worked so hard. I kept saying all along 'We've got to get him on the field.' How do you do that when you've got Matt Grothe? It was very, very difficult to get him on the field, as much as I wanted to get him on the field, because they're both tremendous quarterbacks. I expected good things, expected him to play well. I knew we had a chance.
SVP: I had the highlight on SportsCenter Saturday night, and obviously we talked about the Tallahassee angle with him. I wish we could have shown more highlights to show just how relentless your defensive pressure was. Everyone knows about (George) Selvie, but a Jason Pierre-Paul. Can you just describe the tone they set and how aggressive and hostile you were up front?
JL: I think certainly Joe Tresey and the defensive staff, David Blackwell and Kevin Patrick, who works with our front four, did an outstanding job with those guys. We've been trying to build a little bit of depth, because we've been saying all along we need other players to show up other than George. We've got a pretty good rotation going right now. I think Jason Pierre-Paul is getting better. He's not there, but he's getting better. Craig Marshall, we've worked him at some defensive end, and he's doing better, and David Bedford and (Patrick) Hampton. Those guys all worked. I thought Terrell McClain inside and (Cory) Grissom and Aaron Harris did some awful nice things as well, with (Keith) McCaskill. You've got to play at a real high level, but you have to have rotation or it's such difficult. I thought those guys did a good job."
SVP: Coach, I'd read leading up to this game maybe 40 total teammates on both Florida State's and your rosters, kids that played together in high school. Obviously the storyline goes with some of the kids not recruited by Florida State, they end up on your roster. We hear about all these different things and why someone should be motivated, but when I read that and see the outcome, I have to imagine that did play a big part. How big a part was that in motivating your group throughout this game?
JL: I think it always plays a part in the state of Florida. It's just like when we play FAU or FIU or Central Florida, any of those kind of situations. Any time you play an instate rival like that, these guys are going to play at a high level. I think the guys at Florida State played at a very high level also. I think it's always a factor in your instate games, certainly in the state of Florida. We all deal with it. You can't take everybody, and it works the same way at times when we play different people. Our guys wanted to win, Florida State wanted to win. I thought it was a pretty even matchup with the talent level. I thought it'd be a heck of a ballgame. I told our players to be on your game and we'll see how it plays out. We were able to win it.
SVP: You're 4-0 overall. When I was trying to figure out what kind of team you were, I don't know that I could figure it out, because you played Wofford, Western Kentucky and Charleston Southern. Does that, with a younger group, does a schedule like that perhaps help build up your team's confidence, as opposed to the need to test yourself maybe a little bit more, with maybe a bigger opponent?
JL: That's a good question. I don't really know the answer there. We got caught with our schedule the way it was. We were supposed to be play Florida International and not Charleston Southern, but Florida International dropped us, and Rutgers picked them up, so that was kind of interesting, and then we were supposed to play Indiana on the road this weekend, and from what I'm gathering, Indiana, I don't know if that went in another direction or what happened. I remember our athletic director coming up to me and saying 'Indiana, it's not going to work out right now. We can play Florida State.' That's interesting. When Florida State said they'd play a home-and-home, that's when I was excited about it. For people here to see Florida State come in here is real important. I'm always anxious to get a home-and-home with people. I don't know the answer to that. It played out like it did, and for us as a younger team, it might be better for us. We didn't play great in those three games. Charleston Southern we played pretty well, but we didn't play very good against Western Kentucky.
SVP: They went up to Tallahassee and won 17-7 on Saturday, a huge win for the program. I feel silly saying this, Coach, because your program has been ranked No. 2 nationally, and yet I felt like because of the whole idea of the "Big Three" in the state of Florida, because of how competitive it is, it seemed to me from the outside looking in that this might have been the most important win your program has ever had. How accurate is that?
JL: I think it's really accurate. I think because of the stage of a Florida State and Miami, what they've done, the history of it all. I think to go in there and to beat Florida State is very accurate. Hopefully it will help out in recruiting and the vision we have, the steps we're trying to take. As I've said before, one game doesn't make a program. It helps as a step in that direction, but we're not there and I'm fully aware of that. We do have a lot of work to do and we have a young team. Hopefully our guys will continue to improve and get better, because we have to. That's the only way, for all programs across the country. You've got to be able to get better.
SVP: Coach, to finish up here, B.J. Daniels, your quarterback as we mentioned, in for Grothe, he's also on the basketball team. Now that he's going to be your guy, is the basketball coach giving you a hard time?
JL: (Laughing) Stan Heath is a great man. I mean that. I've been around a lot of basketball coaches. He's special. We'll just get through practice today, and go to the next day. Whatever B.J. wants to do is fine with me. The only thing I'm making sure is he's not going to play basketball if his grades aren't good. If his grades are good, then I want him to experience everything in his life that he wants to experience and enjoy. Our lives are not that long, and every day is special. That's why I'm focusing on practice this afternoon.
SVP: Coach, congratulations to you and your team. Syracuse at noon, keep them focused, keep their feet on the ground. I know that's part of the challenge, too, when the young guys get a big win, you have to keep them in the present, and I'm sure you'll do a great job of that. It was fun to watch, and keep things going there at South Florida.