Bulls prepare for UCF

With Saturday’s 56-7 win over Tennessee-Martin behind the Bulls, South Florida coach Jim Leavitt and the football team are looking ahead to the final meeting between USF and the Central Florida Knights.

Leavitt, however, said the team was not practicing any harder than they would for any other opponent.

“We play every team the same way; it doesn’t matter who we’re playing,” he said. “We play every game like it’s our last, because it could be.”

USF moved to No. 17 in the Associated Press Poll and No. 18 in the USA Today/Coaches’ Poll after Saturday’s win.

The team is not focused on the rankings, though — just its next football game, Leavitt said.

The Bulls look at every team the same, he said. Some players, however, know that Saturday’s game against the Knights is the last against the in-state rival.

“We want to win this game,” junior defensive end George Selvie said. “The series started when I was a freshman and we’ve won every year, so I want to win again this year.”

Other Bulls shared his sentiment.

“It’s a big game,” senior linebacker Brouce Mompremier said. “We’re working hard for this one.”

At practice Tuesday, defensive coordinator Wally Burnham said he wanted the team to work on stopping the run. The Knights ran the ball 59 times in their season-opening win over South Carolina State.

“Today was a long, hot day where we threw everything at them,” Burnham said. “We really challenged them mentally and physically on a long, hot day.”

Wilson earns honor
Junior cornerback Theo Wilson had a debut to remember Saturday. Not only did he return a punt 67 yards for a touchdown, but he was named to the Big East Conference’s weekly Honor Roll.

Wilson, however, said he couldn’t have scored a touchdown without his teammates.

“The ball was partially tipped, and it took a crazy bounce,” he said. “The coaches always say make one move then get vertical, so I made a move and had some great blockers.”

Wilson also said he had waited for a moment like this punt return his entire life.

“Coach put me back there in my first game, and my heart was beating so fast,” he said. “When I got into the end zone, all I could do was thank God.”

Bulls getting beat up
The first game of the season saw several key players suffer injuries, the most serious of which was the ankle injury suffered by tight end Trent Pupello.

Pupello was held out of practice for the second straight day Tuesday. He was on crutches Monday, but was walking in an immobilizing boot Tuesday.

Leavitt said he isn’t counting on Pupello being ready for Saturday’s game.

Other injured players, however, will likely see action against the Knights.

Sophomore running back Mike Ford was in a boot Monday, but was walking around on a sore ankle Tuesday. Senior running back Ben Williams was also limping at the end of Tuesday’s practice.

Leavitt said he expects them to play, and so did offensive coordinator Greg Gregory.

“Whoever lines up out there, we’ll play with,” Gregory said. “I’m not worried about who’s injured. I just assume somebody is going to be there.”