Time to prepare key for Bellotti, Oregon
By Bill Knight
EL PASO, Texas (December 6, 2007) — Oregon
coach Mike Bellotti summed up the matchup.
"We have both been to the summit a little bit, and we have both dropped
off a little bit."
Oregon (8-4) and South
Florida (9-3) will meet at high noon on New Year's Eve in the 74th
annual Brut Sun Bowl. This will be a matchup between a pair of teams who each
were ranked No. 2 in the nation before skidding just a bit.
The Ducks dropped when talented quarterback Dennis Dixon went down with a
torn anterior cruciate ligament, losing their final three games.
"I don't know who will start at quarterback," Bellotti said.
"It could be a left-hander or it could be a right-hander."
Bellotti said a pair of redshirt freshmen -- Justin Roper and Cody Kempt --
will battle for the job, and the one that performs best over the next three
weeks will get the start. He also said he would not yet rule out both of them
The two young quarterbacks struggled to get the Ducks' offense kick started
in the final games but Bellotti said he expects them to be more prepared for
the Dec. 31 date with the Bulls.
"Our two quarterbacks will have three weeks of intense
preparation," he said.
The main cog in the Oregon
attack now is running back Jonathan Stewart. The 5-foot-11, 230-pound Stewart
all-time single season rushing leader with 1,469 yards.
"Jonathan Stewart ... we're going to saddle him up and ride him
home," Bellotti said.
Bellotti said he has not yet looked at tape of South
Florida, but added he has seen them on television.
"They've done a tremendous job building a program," Bellotti said.
"They've got a couple of guys I'd like to borrow for a day or two. They
have a tremendous quarterback in Matt Grothe and George Selvie may be the most
dominating defensive end in college football. I'm not sure, but he might have
more tackles for losses than our entire team."
Jim Leavitt, the only head coach in South Florida's 11 year history, said,
"We're like Mike and Oregon.
We got up to No. 2 in the nation and then had some things happen. I know they
(the Ducks) lost their quarterback, but you don't get to be No. 2 in the nation
without having great players."
Bellotti, whose Ducks dropped a 31-30 decision to Minnesota in the 2003 Brut Sun Bowl, said,
"We're excited to be at this bowl. It was the best bowl we could aspire
to. We've got two very explosive offenses and good weather always contributes
to high scoring games."
This matchup between a pair of teams that flirted with the summit still has
plenty of talented football players. A spot at the summit is no longer at stake
but it should be entertaining.
Bill Knight may be reached at