October 11, 2007

Players dismiss critics who knock program

Amarri Jackson and many of his teammates are not quite sure what people around the country are thinking when they talk about the University of South Florida football program.

In the top 10 rankings only two weeks, the Bulls have some detractors that include former Dallas Cowboys/University of Miami head coach Jimmy Johnson, now an NFL television analyst.

Johnson said on the air he didn't think the fifth-ranked Bulls should be so high in the polls and there were a lot of teams that could beat them.

Other analysts have criticized USF's inconsistent offense and passing game. A columnist in Orlando said it's more important for Central Florida to beat the Bulls this Saturday than to win its Conference USA championship, raising doubt about whether or not USF will be able to handle the pressure that comes with being a top 10 team.

"For them, beating us could make their season, but I wouldn't say the game means more to them," Jackson said. "We want to win too. It's football, it's competition. We want to win every game. You saw the intensity in Florida Atlantic last week. We expected it because it's an in-state game and most of the players are raised here. It would've been big for their program to beat us. We practiced great last week, but just came out slow."

Jackson and quarterback Matt Grothe say the passing game has struggled somewhat recently because teams are dropping as many as eight back into pass coverage. In the second half last week, Grothe and Ben Williams took advantage of that by combining for 261 yards rushing.

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