CJL: This is a Very Talented Football Team

Posted Aug 16, 2009

Before Bulls Head Coach Jim Leavitt signed autographs for the estimated 4,000 people at Fan Fest, coach addressed the media at the 2009 USF football media day. He talked about the Taylor injury, impact players, lesoons he's learned, what they need to do to improve, and much, much more.

What is going on with Jamar Taylor’s injury?

We don’t know how severe it is. We are going to check on him on Monday. What could it be well I would rather not say until we learn more. We are just going to have to wait and see and hopefully will find out Monday.”


Do you fell like your depth at Running Backs is okay?

Well depending on what happens with Taylor. Taylor is a tremendous asset to this football team. There is no question about it. I don’t even want to think negative thoughts. We thought going into the season that he might be our starting running back and that guy that we would feed the ball a lot to. If he wasn’t there then it shifts gears a little bit. Aston Samuels and Lindsey Lamar have been getting a lot of work and so has Mike Ford. We do have (Richard) Kelly that has played a little bit, but he is a bigger back and just changes our pace a little bit. It is what it is.  Taylor is on all of our special teams too. That’s the thing.”


On the fall training camp

“The camp for whatever it is worth has been going well. The guys have worked very, very hard. We ran about 100 plays today. There really is some tight competition at a lot of positions. We talked a great deal about what might happen on the depth chart after today and there will be some moves. Things will happen and people will shift. I already know that. It is so tight that someone is going to be disappointed and someone is going to be happy and how they go about that is going to be really key. I hope they won’t get down and that they will continue to compete because we need to keep going with it.”


“The football team is a very talented football team. We are really happy at quarterback and running back. Our offensive line is young but very athletic. We have some depth at receivers.”


“Our linebackers are young. A couple of areas are inexperienced but we are really talented. Kion Wilson is obviously a very good football player, and Sam Barrington has been a great addition. That young man can play at a very high level. We are really excited about him. The other one is Jacquian Williams. If you meet him today go up and say hi, you will see what I mean by just meeting him. He has great length and runs very well. He plays with as great passion for the game. He loves to play. We also have Chris Robinson and Sabbath Joseph back so we have some guys there.”


“In the secondary, we have Nate (Allen) back, (Jerome) Murphy back, and Quinten Washington, who has played a little football for us and has always been around”.


“Delbert Alverado hit a 57-yarder today and a 55-yarder today. He was very good on his field goals. I thought he did a great job. Our backup kicker, Eric Schwartz, did not kick as well as he needs to. He hit one I think and maybe missed three others so that is something that we need to address. (Michael) Walsh looked good snapping, but we have to make sure to work out harder out backup snapper. The guys have been working hard, and we have the chance to be a pretty good football team. We are only half way through camp though.”


What is the latest with Maikon Bonani?

We would love to have him, but we don’t. He is not going to kick this year. The thing I am happy about is that Delbert Alvarado has kicked for two years. He has been in tight games and those situations a number of times. I would rather have that then not. My biggest concern though is behind Alvarado. That is more of my concern.”


Other then Sam Barrington, Kavon Webster and Jacquian Williams, what other newcomers that have flown under the radar, will have a chance to contribute this season?

Well we have mentioned Lindsey Lamar a couple of times. He probably isn’t under the radar though."
"There are a lot of guys on the offensive line. You have (Jamar) Bass at the left tackle. He is a new player who has turned into a player at probably one of the most important positions there is. That left guard Jeremiah Warren has never started for us, but he is 6’4, 330 pounds. He is very athletic, very strong, and has a chance to be a good player. Sampson Genus is a center right now. He has never played there so there is going to be a learning curve. He is 6’1, 320 and very strong. He is a very good football player. (Zach) Hermann has played a bunch at guard. Mark Popek has not played but (Jacob) Sims has. Depending on what is going to happen there, Mark Popek is going to play a lot of football this year." 

"We lost Cedric Hill our starting tight end, and we got some new guys there that are competing. We also lost receivers Taurus Johnson ad Marcus Edwards, you got some new guys there that have to show up."

"Leslie Stirrups is a guy that you have to watch. He is probably going to play a lot of football this year. David Bedford is much better this year then he was last year, much, much better. Nate allen is playing much better this spring than he has in the past. Jerrell Young looks very good. That might be another new one. I don’t know if a lot of people talk about Jerrell a lot. He is a very physical player. He ran a 10.6 100 meter in high school and he's a 6'1 and about 200 pounds. He played good in the bowl game. I was happy he started in that game. He showed us he could do some things.”


What is Donte Spires’s status with the team?

He is on it. He is playing and doing well. It’s just that he hasn’t played for a year so you have to give him a chance to kind of get rolling a little bit. I haven’t talked about him a lot because quite frankly he has been doing a good job for us. We just have different guys in there, but he is on the team and competing.”


What Lessons have you learned from the last few seasons?

“Probably things I already knew. We have to recruit better and get more depth, because injuries happen and you have to do a good job recruiting. Not that we haven’t done a good job, but you have to really do a very good job. We’ve gone to four straight bowl games in a row, and the lesson I learned is we have a very good ball team.


What Lessons have you learned from the players?

“They are great guys and work very hard, and I’ve learned that this means a lot to them and they’re a special group. Every year I’ve been very fortunate and I’ve had some great people to be able to do what we’ve done.”

How have the seniors influenced the other players on this team?

George (Selvie) was a beast today and has played really well. He leads by example, but he is more vocal. Matt Grothe has been as focused as I have ever seen him. Matt is probably not as vocal as George. Neither one of them is really vocal, but George is a little bit more. Matt has been working pretty hard. Kion Wilson seems to lead by just working. We don’t have a lot of vocal guys here that will grab someone by the throat or do those types of things. Jerrell Young has been doing a lot of leading I think. Kion and George lead the defense I would say as much as anyone. On the offensive line there all so young, and are still feeling it out. It'll be interesting to see who steps up, and that's very important. Matt is obviously the leader on offense as the quarterback. Receivers seem to have a lot of talent, but who is going to step up and lead because Marcus Edwards was a leader and so was Taurus Johnson last year. We will see because it is important.”


What are you expecting out of Carlton Mitchell this year?

He runs fast, he is tall, and very strong. I think Carlton has the chance to have a really good year. In the past, it has just been about consistency. He has gotten better every year so that is encouraging. I expect him to have a really good year. That is what I have been waiting to see.”


Will you rotate captains again this year?

That is the plan right now. We didn’t always rotate them. We sometimes put the same guys on every week like Jake Griffin who was always our captain throughout the whole year because he just happened to be the guy to step up.”


Where do you think your team ranks in the Big East and what do you need to improve?

‘We have to improve every year. Two years ago, we were the number two team in the country, but we didn’t get better. We were playing at such a high level that I was really concerned about us getting better. We had a lot of injuries that hurt us and three very close games. We came back and played pretty well at the end so that was that year. Last year, the same kind of thing happened with health and injuries. We have to protect the football. We have been saying that the past two years. The games that we lost are the games that we turned the ball over. I think that is pretty clear. The other thing is that we have to play staggering defense. Last year, I thought we gave up way too many deep balls in the secondary over and over again. I think that really hurt us. The other part of it is that we have to get a pass rush. Also, we have to be able to keep our heads up if we lose because nobody in the Big East has gone through undefeated the last few years. We just need to keep banging away at it. It is going to be a really tight race this year. There is a lot of parody as everybody knows in the Big East.”



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