Grothe’s numbers keep adding up

TAMPA – He didn’t even know it until the game was over, but USF’s 27-10 win against Syracuse on Saturday was a record-breaking performance for quarterback Matt Grothe.

Going into the Bulls’ game against the Orange, Grothe needed just six passing yards to break Marquel Blackwell’s freshman passing record of 1,620 from 1999.

Grothe didn’t waste anytime. The first-year starter broke the record on USF’s first offensive play with a 24-yard pass to senior S.J. Green. Grothe went on to finish the game with 364 passing yards – another record Blackwell held before Saturday.

“It’s always an honor to have something like that – setting a school record,” Grothe said. “But I’ve got to give a lot of credit to my offensive line and the type of receivers we have to make plays.”

Along with a career-best passing game, Grothe led the Bulls on the ground with 45 rushing yards – something he’s done in six of USF’s 10 games this season.

“That’s good for a senior, freshman, junior, anybody – that’s pretty good,” coach Jim Leavitt said about Grothe’s 409 offensive yards. “He’s a good football player.”

Sophomore Taurus Johnson, the Bulls’ leading receiver with 417 yards this season, has been on the other end of 29 of Grothe’s passes, including a 79-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter against Syracuse. The touchdown pass to Johnson was the second-longest in school history.

“As a redshirt freshman this man has shown a lot of maturity,” said Johnson, who led USF with five catches and 131 yards. “He doesn’t seem like a freshman. The man knows the offense. The man is just a good guy – He’s amazing.”

Although Grothe has started every game since the second week of the season, his teammates and Leavitt continue to give all four of USF’s quarterbacks credit. But it’s Grothe who played so well that he gave himself three games to gain the six yards needed to become USF’s all-time best freshman passer. And it’s Grothe who broke the single-game record for passing yards in half as many starts as it took Blackwell.

“He had a major spring, and coming into the season him and Pat (Julmiste) – all the quarterbacks looked pretty good,” wide receiver Amarri Jackson said. “I did expect him to at least give us a 300-yard game, but it was almost 400 yards. Now we just have to set the goals higher for him.”

Blackwell, arguably USF’s best-ever quarterback, holds nearly every passing record in the program’s 10-year history, and while Grothe still has three seasons to continue chipping away at the records, the numbers don’t mean anything unless they amount to wins.

“I think my final game I ever played at Lake Gibson in the state finals I threw for 360, but we didn’t win that one,” Grothe said. “It’s good to throw for that much and win.”