Believe it or not, coach Jim Leavitt feels he knew all along – about quarterback Matt Grothe, that is.
Certainly there has to be someone out there who’s surprised by what the redshirt freshman has accomplished this season. Leavitt sure isn’t.
Since coming off the bench during the Sept. 2 McNeese State game, Grothe has passed for 1,388 yards, nine touchdowns and is the team’s leading rusher with 460 yards and seven touchdowns.
Leavitt, however, said he saw something in Grothe earlier, long before spring drills. Actually, it was the week of the Bulls’ bowl game on Dec. 31.
“Before the bowl game, I thought this guy might have the ability to play,” Leavitt said. “I even told him during the bowl week that he was going to get a great shot during the spring.
“Am I surprised by Matt, honestly? No. I might have been surprised if you had asked me this his freshman year. Right now, he’s doing about as good as he’s supposed to do.”
A second wind: A remarkable and probably unnoticed stat the Bulls possess is that they have scored 119 points in the second half of games and just 69 in the first.
Leavitt said it’s partly due to adjustments, but he also admits his team has played better in the second half of games this season. This includes going into halftime with a deficit in three games (McNeese, Florida International, UCF) and two games with near comebacks (Kansas, Rutgers).
“We have (made adjustments) for 10 years now,” Leavitt said. “We always try and always have to make one or two adjustments at halftime. It’s just a matter of competition. You’re not going to be a very good football team if you don’t (make adjustments).
“Overall, we’ve probably (played better in the second half). But not in one of our key losses: Rutgers. We didn’t in Rutgers. We lost. That still bothers me. Should’ve had that one.”
On second thought: Leavitt said Wednesday that practice was much better – the team was “more focused” – but added that he felt practice Tuesday was much better than he had immediately assessed.
“When I went back and looked at the tape, they were better than I thought,” Leavitt said. “I was uncertain (Tuesday) because they were so quiet. They’re not, usually.”
Guard update: Leavitt said Wednesday that guard Jake Griffin would travel with the team despite being a long shot to play Sunday at Cincinnati.