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Long September layoff unavoidable

It’s simply too bad for the USF football team and coach Jim Leavitt that the Bulls didn’t receive a bowl berth last season. If the Bulls had received that bid, they might understand what it’s like to be out of action for three weeks between games.

That is, of course, unless Leavitt can pull off a miracle within the next week and schedule a game, something he joked about Tuesday.

“I had an athletic director call me today about future scheduling and I said, ‘Lets play this Saturday,'” Leavitt said. “He never gave me an answer, so maybe that’s still up in the air. He just kind of snickered on the phone.”

However, the reality is Leavitt won’t schedule a game, and his team now must grow accept the fact that its next game will be a full three weeks after last Saturday’s 27-17 victory against Nicholls State. The Bulls face Army Sept. 27 in West Point, N.Y.

This is the longest period of inactivity for the Bulls in the program’s six-year-plus history, leaving Leavitt with little understanding of what may happen.

“I can’t speculate because I’ve never been through it,” Leavitt said. “We didn’t originally have it this way, but that is the way it is. We couldn’t control any of that.”

What Leavitt couldn’t control were the actions of Baylor and Eastern Michigan, which decided last February to drop the Bulls from their schedules. USF originally was scheduled to travel to Eastern Michigan this weekend, and return home Sept. 20 to face Baylor. But both teams canceled their matchups with the Bulls six months prior to the start of the season. USF ultimately opted to play Nicholls State last Saturday and Charleston Southern Oct. 18, leaving the three-week layoff in September.

As usual, Leavitt views the situation positively.

“The way I look at it, it is better this way than to have two or three different bye weeks,” Leavitt said. “If we didn’t have these (three) weeks here, we’d have them spread apart.”

Junior quarterback Ronnie Banks said the extended time off isn’t going to hurt the Bulls, but rather give the team a chance to correct the mistakes that have hurt the team early this season.

“It gives us a chance to collect our thoughts and just work on the things we need to improve on,” Banks said. “I don’t know if (anyone has) seen, (but) we’ve got a lot of things we need to work on.

“We haven’t executed well, (and) the turnovers, and we only scored 27 points (last week) and that’s not acceptable. I don’t accept that (performance), and my teammates don’t accept that.”

If Leavitt and Banks prove correct, the extended break may have fallen at just the right moment. The Bulls’ first game back marks their inaugural game as a member of Conference USA.

“We know we have quite a stretch ahead (with) two ESPN games (and) Conference USA all the way basically,” Leavitt said. “We know we have a nine-game season. If we are successful enough there we know we will be able to play more.”

Leavitt said his team would use the rest of this week to heal up nagging injuries before starting to prepare Monday for Army. The team will hold the “Bull Bowl” scrimmage today, giving players on the practice squad and some who don’t see regular game time a chance to play. However, most, if not all, starters won’t participate.