Leavitt ready to get on the field and play

Keep Jim Leavitt away from the equipment room.

The Bulls coach was itching to get on the field as his team is just a day away from opening its 2002 season.

“I miss playing,” Leavitt said. “If you can’t play, you coach, as far as I’m concerned because that’s about as close as you get to being on that field without playing. I miss it, I miss it a lot.

“I don’t know if I’ve missed a practice since fourth grade.”

Tuesday was the Bulls final practice as Leavitt will give the team off on Wednesday before opening USF’s sixth season of football 7 p.m. Thursday at Raymond James Stadium against Florida Atlantic.

“Every year you get to this point, and your guys are tired and they’re sore,” Leavitt said. “They’re tired of practicing. They want to play a game. They want to line up against somebody else, and I don’t think it’s any different anywhere around the country. I don’t think it matters who the team is because, after you get done with 28 or 29 practices, it’s just time to play. We’re excited about playing in (tomorrow).”

The Bulls shrugged off an apathetic workout on the first day of classes Monday and bounced back with a better effort Tuesday. Leavitt emphasized situations and the kicking game in the hour and a half workout. Kicking was an Achilles heel for the Bulls in 2001 as USF’s kickers went 3-for-12 on field goals and 44 of 52 on extra points.

The Florida Atlantic game will represent a real role reversal for the Bulls. The Owls are entering their second year of football and went 4-6 as I-AA Independents a year ago. Thursday will mark USF’s first chance to be the more experienced Division I-A squad after years of being on the other side of the coin. But Leavitt said that it didn’t matter to him and his team what role the Bulls were in.

“You get ready for a game and you don’t worry about anything other than that team,” Leavitt said. “You’re focused on that team, and you get excited. I mean you get excited and the adrenaline flows, and you get all worked up, and you can’t wait to play. I don’t even think about those kind of things.

“You think about execution, doing the right things, playing well. You think about your matchups and how that looks, and I don’t think about ‘oh, we’re four years older than another team.’ Those things don’t do much for me. You just go out, and you’re excited about playing the game. It’s a heck of a lot more fun than practicing.”