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Losing to Kentucky offers perspective


© St. Petersburg Times, published September 11, 2000

TAMPA -- After trouncing Jacksonville State 40-0 the first week of the season, it was difficult for USF coach Jim Leavitt to get an accurate read on just how good his team is.

Saturday's 27-9 loss at Kentucky provided him a better glimpse. His observation after watching game film: There is much work to be done.

The Bulls gained 215 yards -- 81 passing -- and scored one touchdown.

"We really have to get our offense to come around and play better for us to have a chance," Leavitt said Sunday afternoon.

Leavitt said he also was disappointed in the Bulls' inability to create more havoc for Kentucky quarterback Jared Lorenzen. He was 30-for-57 for 382 yards and three touchdowns -- and was not sacked.

"Defensively, we've got to learn to get to the quarterback," Leavitt said. "He (Lorenzen) threw the ball a lot of times, and we never got one sack.

"We have to do better. We've got to figure out how to get a sack. We got some pressure but not near enough."

Leavitt said the defense also needs to work on stopping the run, adding that the Bulls can't allow draw plays to be used as successfully as they were Saturday. He said USF also gave up too many deep balls and end routes.

And while the special teams and punt teams graded out "decent", Leavitt said the punt and kickoff return specialists need to improve.

"All in all, we've got some real things to work on," he said. "When you play against a team that's a decent team, you start to see some more weaknesses that you have to work and get better on. But if we improve, we'll be fine ... we have to work to get better."

Leavitt said the focus this week will be getting the Bulls to forget about Kentucky and focus on Saturday's game against James Madison, which defeated the Bulls last season.

"Hopefully our guys can bounce back, and we'll see if we can put something together for an awfully, awfully strong 2-0 James Madison team," Leavitt said.

SANDERSON SHINES: Three weeks ago, Devin Sanderson was in a fierce battle with Eric Schaum for the No. 1 punting job. Although Leavitt acknowledged that Sanderson had the stronger leg, his lack of consistency was a major issue.

If Saturday was any indication, the questions about his ability have been answered.

Sanderson averaged 49 yards in the first half and finished with eight for a 47 average.

"I feel real positive," Sanderson said. "I think I stepped up and secured my job. I don't think there's any question after today."

Kicker Bill Gramatica was the first to meet Sanderson on the sideline for a congratulatory hug after Sanderson boomed a 52-yard punt on his first of the afternoon midway through the first quarter.

"I am so happy for Devin," Gramatica said. "He's worked extremely hard. He's a great kid, a hard worker and I'm so happy to see him succeed."

MIXED REVIEWS: Just outside the USF locker room Saturday, getting a read on just how good Lorenzen is was tough.

Sophomore defensive tackle Lee Roy Selmon Jr. and senior outside linebacker Vassay Marc were complimentary of the 6-4, 275-pound rising star.

"I give him props to the utmost," Marc said after Lorenzen set passing records for a USF opponent. "He has a cannon for an arm, and he dictates where he wants to throw. On offense, he beat us today."

But strong safety Roy Manns was less impressed: "He was all right."

Added left cornerback Anthony Henry: "He's a pretty decent quarterback. He's not the best we've faced ... but no doubt he's a decent quarterback."

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