USF at North CarolinaWhen: Sat., Noon Where: Kenan StadiumTV/Radio: ESPNU, 970 AM
Don’t go by the record.
At least that’s not what coach Jim Leavitt is doing with North Carolina on Saturday.
The Tar Heels are 1-4, and while that won’t impress any coaches that have a vote in the polls, those four losses are to No. 12 Clemson, No. 23 Virginia Tech, No. 24 Rutgers and Miami.
Which means UNC has scored just 85 points to USF’s 151. Surprising, since the Tar Heels have been playing since before World War I, though none of that matters to Leavitt.
“They are going to come out fighting,” Leavitt said. “They’re going to come out with everything they got, and they are going to come out hard. I know they will. I know this team will. They have their backs against the wall, right?
“I know this team, I know this program more than people think I do. They’ll fight, and they’ll fight hard.”
There are many members of the media calling for the firing of UNC coach John Bunting if his team loses to USF. Andrew Jones of the Wilmington Star-News said a loss to USF should prompt Bunting’s resignation, adding, “If UNC falls Saturday, proving another program with little or no tradition has passed it, Bunting should do the right thing and announce his resignation, effective at the end of the season.”
Bunting did not address such matters during his weekly teleconference Tuesday, but he did admit his defense has been “inconsistent.” Bunting added that USF’s style of offense is “what I like to call hockey on grass. They’re all over the place, they’ll spread you out, and if you break down, they’ll burn you.”
One player sure to be all over the place is quarterback Matt Grothe, even though he missed two days of practice with a boot on his right foot. Grothe injured his foot Saturday against Connecticut on the first play of the second quarter, and team doctors told him it was sprained ligaments.
Grothe returned to practice Wednesday and Thursday, and Leavitt said he was limited but shoulD start Saturday.
Receiver Ean Randolph has also been limited in practice, and Leavitt was not sure whether he would start.
The Bulls might need Randolph – who is seventh in the nation in punt returns with 19 yards a return – to return kickoffs as well. USF is 65th in Division I-A in kickoff returns, with just 20 yards per return; the Tar Heels are first in the nation in kickoff return defense, allowing only 13 yards a return.
Even though Leavitt never treats any team any differently regardless of whether it’s ranked, that may be one of the reasons he knows the Tar Heels will be tougher than they appear on paper.
“North Carolina is a good football team,” Leavitt said. “I say that about everyone we play every week, but I’ve seen them play and I’ve seen who they’ve played. And it’s going to be a real challenge, but we’re not shy about playing them. We’re excited about this challenge.”
Oracle staff predictions:Sports Editor Mike Camunas: USF 28-14Editor in Chief Brad Bautista: USF 17-10Photo Editor Josh Corban: USF 42-13Copy Chief Allison Tiberia: USF 31-10Staff Writer Brendan Galella: USF 28-17Asst. Montage Editor Jessica Hartman: USF 21-7Asst. News Editor Suzanne Parks: USF 28-7Executive Editor Amanda Whitsitt: USF 21-17Opinion Editor Jordan Capobianco: USF 21-10Managing Editor John Calkins: USF 23-21Production Assistant Marlow Gum: USF 38-17Online Editor Paul Willms: USF 35-21