While quarterback Matt Grothe’s picture looms on a billboard over Fowler Avenue, junior Grant Gregory realizes he may be called upon to fill Grothe’s shoes.
As the Bulls open their season Saturday against Elon University, Gregory is in the same
position Grothe was last year: a play away from becoming the starting
Grothe emerged as a star when he replaced Pat Julmiste after he left the first game of the 2006 season – against McNeese State – with an injury.
For the second consecutive season, the Bulls open against an opponent from the NCAA Division I Football Championships Subdivision (FCS), formerly Division I-AA. Gregory knows he must be prepared – as Grothe was last year – to step in and lead the team if necessary.
Here are a few thoughts from Gregory on the opener against Elon:
“Every year we’re pretty much going to play a (Division) I-AA (opponent). This year we play Elon, who’s a real solid I-AA team. Every year you look around the nation there are a few upsets – last year Montana State beat Colorado, and that was a big one. We don’t want this to be us, but every year, it happens.”
On USF’s home opener winning streak and the importance of a fast start:
“10-0? Hopefully we’ll be 11-0. We need to start out on the right foot and win this game. Every game is the most important game – you learn that quick being a coach’s son. (Grant’s father is USF offensive coordinator Greg Gregory) My mentality may be a little different than most other people, but for me it’s been like that since I was about five. I look at every game as if this is the most important game I’ll ever play.”
On being the second quarterback on the depth chart:
“My preparation has always been the same, but last year I was two plays away. This year I’m one play away. When you’re one play away, it’s a lot more real. It’s pretty hard to get through a whole season without getting hurt, so I realize that at some point this team may need me to step up and make plays. I look at it like being a pitch hitter or a relief pitcher in baseball – you never know when you have to be ready.”
On the depth at running back:
“Half the time I don’t even know who’s back there – they all look real good, I think. (Mike) Ford and (Shawn) Cannon are bigger and more powerful. Aston Samuels is the quickest; Ben Williams is probably the best combination. Mo (Plancher) is just good at everything. They all have different strengths. But like I said, when I look back I have confidence in all of them and I think the whole team does.”
On freshman running back Jamar Taylor:
“I’ve been extremely impressed with (Jamar Taylor). He picked up the offense extremely fast. He’s a bright football player. He’ll be a good fit with us and I’m very happy he was cleared (to play). He’s a very good player and he’ll be able to help this team a lot.”
On USF’s practice routine:
“That’s one of the things I love here. With Coach Leavitt you scrimmage a lot and you get a feel for who does what. We’ve scrimmaged a lot more here than when I was in Indiana, and under any coach that my dad has been under. That’s where you really get the intensity going in practice and find out everyone’s capabilities.”
On the intensity of practice:
“Going against our defense in practice is pretty intense – going against guys like (linebacker Ben) Moffitt, (defensive end George) Selvie and (cornerbacks Trae) Williams and (Mike) Jenkins. Having to face some of the best players every day really helps us. If you don’t come to play in
practice then they’re going to embarrass you. We have to
practice hard and that’s good.”