Monday, September 8, 2008

Q&A with Brett McMurphy

Today we have for you a Q&A with Brett McMurphy of the Tampa Tribune. He covers the South Florida Bulls and has a blog on the Tribune website, which he updates quite often. He was linked quite often today with his revealing of the death threats Matt Grothe and his father received (very Methzouish). You stay classy, UCF. Anyway, he was kind enough to answer our questions and we thank him for his time. This is obviously the game both teams having been pointing toward and the winner could certainly catapult into the top 10 with a good showing.

1.I have one to ask quickly, as I'm sure you're going to squash it even quicker than I asked. But, I caught wind of some message board chatter that if the hurricane affected the area, they might move the game to Lawrence with USF taking the gate, KU taking the concessions and a food drive for any victims. Is this even halfway substantiated?
“Ahhh, message board chatter. Nope, the game is staying here in Tampa. Weather should be fine. If there was a hurricane, they would postpone the game, but they wouldn’t move it.”
[Note: This was asked prior to KU's release of denying these reports. I still believe that KU probably asked, but I'm sure USF rebuked it quickly.]

2. Now for something a bit more topical. Whereas USF hasn't substantially out-gained KU on the year (1024 to 922) they have enjoyed a much more balanced attack thus far. Which area would you consider to be their strength?
“Actually, USF’s balance has been its strength. The Bulls are most effective when they have their running game going. It will be interesting this week because two of their top four backs (Mike Ford and Ben Williams) have ankle injuries and as of Monday, their availability for Friday is unknown. Ford didn’t play last week at UCF and if he’s out again this week that would limit the carries to Williams, who has left USF’s first two games with a nagging ankle injury, Moise Plancher, Jamar Taylor and Richard Kelly. And then there’s QB Matt Grothe, who is the team’s top running threat anyway.”

3. Along those same lines, the KU defense has yet to allow a TD this year (a streak we expect to end Friday). And really, outside of a 78 yard end around Saturday, they've allowed almost nothing on the ground(66 to FIU and 70 aside from that run). If they're able to have this kind of success stopping USF's ground game, is Grothe capable of throwing them to a win?
“If KU can bottle up USF’s running backs, they still must contain Grothe’s running. Can Grothe ‘throw USF to a win?’ Sure, but I think the more the Jayhawks can try to make Grothe beat them through the air, the more they increase their chances to win.”

4. Again feeding off the last two questions, Todd Reesing has looked nothing short of incredible so far. However, KU has not shown the ability to establish a running game (personally, I think this will have to change to win in a tough road environment). Would you expect USF to concentrate on defending the pass or the run first, especially with those two new corners? 4a. Which would you say USF is better at
“Ever since the beginning of time – OK, 12 years ago when USF started its program – the weakness of USF’s defense has been stopping the run. Teams that have been able to run straight ahead and pound it out against USF have been the most successful. If KU is going to air it out and give up the run game, that would probably play into USF’s strength. USF is very comfortable in the nickel package and anytime you put DE George Selvie in an obvious passing situation, it’s not a good thing for the offense.”

5. Keeping with the USF defense, how has George Selvie looked so far this year? Would you expect Kansas' new LT, Jeff Spikes to have trouble with him?
“Selvie has looked good, his numbers haven’t. Defensive coordinator Wally Burnham said he’s playing better than last season. But he has no sacks through two games and, a large part of that, is facing constant double teams and offenses that are game-planning against him. I’m sure KU will plan accordingly so it doesn’t expose Spikes too many times in one-on-one situations with Selvie.”

6. Admittedly, we didn't see much of USF's game Saturday and obviously 2 TOs make a huge difference, but how did they get taken to overtime in a game they more than doubled (504 to 226) UCF in total yardage?
“Leading by 14, Grothe threw a fourth quarter interception with less than six minutes remaining and UCF scored quickly, then forced a three-and-out and before you knew it, it was a tie game. USF had a chance to win in regulation, but Delbert Alvarado missed a 42-yard field goal with 11 seconds remaining.”

7. It seems to me that USF has had some trouble on special teams.
How worried are they about Daymond Patterson and Marcus Herford?
“I’m sure special teams will be a top priority this week in practice for USF. Patterson and Herford will get their undivided attention.”

8. Before getting your prediction, we want to ask a quick question about Matt Grothe. We remember being very impressed with him a freshman two years ago and obviously the national public got to know him quite a bit last year? Who would you compare him to and why?
“There’s been some national media that have called Grothe a “poor-man’s Tim Tebow.” I don’t think that’s accurate, because Tebow is more of a power runner than Grothe. Grothe resembles Doug Flutie more. And actually, reminds me of Todd Reesing. Grothe just makes plays. Against UCF, he turned at least three sure sacks into 10-yard gains by spinning away from defenders, who were left grasping for air. Check out these short clips on YouTube: #1 & #2, both against Pitt two years ago. I don’t know who consistently makes those plays.” (click to enlarge)
9. Finish this sentence: South Florida will win if...
“If Kansas’ team bus breaks down on Dale Mabry Avenue Thursday night by two of Tampa’s world famous strip bars? USF will win if the Bulls don’t suffer a hangover from the emotional UCF game and don’t allow Reesing to pick them apart. This game reminds me of last year’s visit by nationally-ranked West Virginia (a Friday night ESPN game, sold out stadium, electrifying atmosphere). USF, obviously, is hoping for the same result.”

10. And finally, what's your score prediction?
“Sorry, I don’t have one yet. I always post it on game day on my blog: if you want to check back on Friday.”

p.s. Regrettably, we turned down a very enticing offer to attend this game. Did we make a big mistake? What are some of the highlights of Tampa?
“Yes, a very big mistake. Highlights? Sun, fun, sun, more fun. And see answer No. 9.”

Again, thanks to Brett McMurphy of the Tampa Tribune. He also helped out with a podcast on that you can check out here.

**EDIT** - According to our pal Brett, this game is nowhere near a sellout. Specifically, they've only sold about 3/4 of the seats, or roughly 50000 of the 65000 available. At least we know Aqib will be there. And honestly, I hope this doesn't change, but with tickets as low as $10, I imagine it will.


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