When USF football coach Jim Leavitt wants to analyze a future opponent, he has the advantage of turning on his TV set on a Saturday afternoon to see reports on his higher-ranking opponents.
Away from the limelight of televised college sports, gleaning information on future opposition demands considerably more ingenuity.
Without the luxury of a dossier, courtesy of ESPN, USF menÃs soccer coach, George Kiefer compiles crucial scouting information from statistics produced by athletic departments, various articles and statistics from various conference and college soccer Internet sites.
According to Kiefer, the most valuable source of information is from coaches or other contacts who have seen a particular opponent recently.
But even here, a coachÃs task is hampered by regulations. Kiefer said coaches are prohibited from giving information on conference teams to non-conference teams. Further, if Kiefer wishes to scout an opponent himself, NCAA regulations state he must pay for that trip out of his own pocket.
Ã¬It is tough, if we want to go scout weÃre not allowed to have USF pay for us,Ã® Kiefer said.
As the 6-1 Bulls prepare for SundayÃs road trip to Charlotte, Kiefer has predictably exhausted the limited well of information available on the 49ers (5-2-0). One of the focuses of this weekÃs training has been to familiarize the players with what to expect Sunday.
Ã¬WeÃll try with the guys we have Ã± one group will imitate the tendencies of Charlotte,Ã® Kiefer said.
KieferÃs players are also briefed with details of any outstanding players within their opponentsÃ ranks. Kiefer cited Mira Mupier, whose three goals and three assists have prompted the coach to target him as one of the 49ers the Bulls will need to keep a close watch on.
Ã¬WeÃll break down the personnel of their guys with the players to let them know what to expect,Ã® Kiefer said.
Nowhere is the importance of scouting information reflected more than in the strategies employed to counter differences in formations. To counter the possible numerical superiority in midfield derived from the 49ersÃ 3-5-2 formation, Kiefer said he would be expecting forwards, defenders and wide midfield players to augment the BullsÃ personnel in the center of the midfield when appropriate.
Although he recognizes the need for his players to be flexible, Kiefer insists his preferred formation is 4-4-2.
Ã¬It gives you four guys across the back Ã± I like playing zonal so when we win the ball, we can be quicker in transition, and the guys are already in position to attack,Ã® he said.
The BullsÃ encounter with Charlotte is the 49ersÃ second of three consecutive games against sides slated to occupy the first three places in the conference. Having lost 2-0 at St. Louis on Wednesday, the 49ers travel to UAB Oct. 5.
The Bulls will be traveling without midfielder Jeff Thwaites, who is struggling with peroneal tendonitis in his right foot. Other than Thwaites, Kiefer will be able to pick from a full roster, including freshman Hunter West, whose 1.29 goals per game average puts him at No. 2 nationally.
It is a series that USF leads 13-7-2, but the Bulls have not beaten the 49ers since a 1-0 win in 1999, a streak that Kiefer hopes will motivate his more experienced players.
Ã¬If I was a senior on the team not having ever beaten Charlotte, that would serve as good motivation,Ã® he said.
Chris OÃDonnell covers USF menÃs soccer and can be reached at email@example.com