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Football team goes back to the basics


© St. Petersburg Times, published April 4, 2001

The South Florida football team has completed its first week of spring practice, and the opinion of coach Jim Leavitt is that things are going well but much still needs to be done.

"The first week went good," Leavitt said. "But right now we have no senior leadership. We lost 25 seniors, some very good players at key positions, so we've got a lot of things to do. Have we replaced that? No."

The week was spent focusing on basic elements of the game, and Leavitt said he expects that to continue this week. "We're trying to learn to play the game again," he said. "We're just doing flat-out fundamentals -- blocking, tackling, throwing the football."

Because of the loss of so many players, particularly at kicker and on the offensive and defensive line, Leavitt said these spring drills remind him of his first season four years ago.

"That first year I didn't really worry about winning games, and I'm not really worried about winning games right now, in all honesty," Leavitt said. The spring game is 1 p.m. April 21.

CELEBRATION: The men's basketball team will hold its annual banquet at 7:30 p.m. Monday in the Marshall Center, 1956 Ballroom on campus. Tickets are $30. A table of eight can be purchased for $200 and includes dinner with two players. For a reservation form or information, call (813) 974-2125.

ON THE RISE: Although the softball team lost two of three to Alabama-Birmingham over the weekend, USF (29-20, 3-3 C-USA) is back in the national rankings. It received seven votes, making it 36th. The Bulls are idle until Saturday, when they kick off a two-game series at Houston.

TRACK HONORS: Senior Jan Erik Salo won the men's 3,000-meter steeplechase at the Raleigh Relays on Sunday at North Carolina State. Salo, who last week was named an academic All-American in District III, won in 8:58.55, 10 seconds ahead of his nearest competitor. USF's Tara Quinn won the women's 10,000 meters Friday night. In the men's 10K, senior Russ Gerbers ran 30:18.94 to earn fourth, and Jimmy Baxter finished fourth in the high jump with 2.14 meters.

BASEBALL: The Bulls host Stetson at 7 tonight at Red McEwen Field. This weekend they play Cincinnati in a three-game series at Florida Power Park. The games are 7 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

- Antonya English covers South Florida athletics. She can be reached at (813) 226-3389 or at

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