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Big win no longer enough

By SHARON GINN

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 2, 2000


TAMPA -- South Florida notched the biggest victory in its short history Saturday, 20-10 over Division I-AA No. 1 Troy State. And for the first three seasons of Bulls football, that would have been plenty to keep them happy.

No longer.

USF (3-2) gets six days to prepare for future Conference USA mate Southern Mississippi, ranked No. 17. The Bulls travel to Hattiesburg Saturday to face by far their most intimidating opponent.

And they can't wait.

"It's a whole different deal now," coach Jim Leavitt said. "Troy was the best in I-AA at this point. Southern Miss could very well be as good as anybody else in the country in I-A. It's a real big challenge.

"This is not Kentucky, this is not Baylor. I'm excited about it, there's no question about that, but it's an awesome task. We've got to see how we match up with them."

By Sunday, Leavitt was ready to nitpick. He praised quarterback Marquel Blackwell, who accounted for 386 all-purpose yards, but said special teams and the run defense need improvement for the Bulls to compete with Southern Miss.

"We've played a pretty emotional schedule already, and we've got a very emotional one coming up," Leavitt said. "(The Troy State) game was a real big one for us. A real important win."

INJURY REPORT: Leavitt said nose tackle Lee Roy Selmon Jr., who left the game in the first half with a sprained ankle and a sore knee, is questionable. The ankle still was swollen Sunday. Receiver DeAndrew Rubin, who left in the first quarter with a sprained ankle, should be fine for Saturday. The status of free safety Jay Mize, who took a hard hit to the shoulder, was unknown.

WAKEUP CALL: Senior defensive tackle Therrimann Edwards had not missed a start since 1998 and had started 32 of USF's 37 games. Yet Leavitt and defensive line coach Earl Lane did not hesitate to bench him briefly in favor of sophomore Tavares Jurineack.

"I just think that Earl wanted to light a little fire underneath him," Leavitt said. "We were kind of disappointed with the way he played against Baylor, and kind of wanted to shake it up a little bit."

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT: Free safety Anthony Henry and defensive end Shawn Hay were reminded why you can't just show up for games. After practicing receiving drills with the defensive backs last week, Henry snagged his seventh career interception.

And Hay, who practiced pouncing on a loose ball with Tchecoy Blount and Steve Hatley in the locker room before the game, found himself in the same situation against Troy State. His fourth-quarter fumble recovery led to a USF field goal.

JACKSON RETURNS: Senior receiver Charlie Jackson had a solid game after returning to the lineup. Jackson missed the Baylor game to attend the funeral of the grandmother who raised him, Constance Wilson. He struggled on punt returns, returning two for a total of 1 yard, but was second on the team in receptions with four for 65 yards.

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