GAINESVILLE — Mack Brown has waited three years at Florida for this opportunity, so though it has come at the expense of a teammate, Brown doesn't plan to waste his chance.
Brown will be the starting running back when the Gators host Toledo on Saturday. He takes over for Matt Jones (viral infection).
"It's big," Brown said of starting. "In the offseason I had been training hard for this opportunity. It's a blessing."
Brown, a four-star recruit who was Scout.com's No. 12 running back, said it has been tough up to this point.
"The past three years have been kind of hard," he said. "Probably getting two carries every four games. It hurts, but I'm not looking at the past anymore."
Asked if he's ready to become a featured back, Brown said: "I guess we will find out Saturday."
DOWN, DRISKEL: QB Jeff Driskel had 118 carries for 413 yards and four TDs last season, but an objective of fall camp has been to reiterate the need to slide instead of running head-on into defenders. Because Driskel has been non-contact in practice, offensive coordinator Brent Pease said he won't know until Saturday whether Driskel can contain himself.
"He understands it," Pease said. "Sometimes — he's a competitive kid — so he's probably going to go compete to get things right sometimes. He'll have to learn and understand that you get your pads down. There are plenty of examples from last year where he got popped pretty good."
Antonya English, Times staff writer
USF: Focus necessary
TAMPA — USF coach Willie Taggart wants his players to be focused and ready to put up a fight in Saturday's opener against McNeese State.
"By no means do I think it is going to be an easy game for us," Taggart said of his team's Division I-AA foe. "We've got to come locked in and ready to play. … I look at this like this is the game for us. We haven't won in a long time and we're going to have to take care of them and we're not going to hold anything back."
McNeese State RB Marcus Wiltz had a team-high 651 yards last season. But USF senior LB DeDe Lattimore said the Bulls are prepared.
"I've been watching a lot of film on McNeese. They're a great team and a great program," Lattimore said. "Offensively, they do a lot of running. (We have to) watch out for the wildcat, a lot of formations, (and) a lot of unbalanced (lines). We've just got to be disciplined."
BIRTHDAY SURPRISE: Taggart turned 37 Tuesday. He said it was the first time in 20 years he saw his mother, Gloria James, on his birthday. She made the trip from Palmetto to give him a cake.
Jeff Odom, Times correspondent
UCF: Zips pose problems
ORLANDO — UCF's defense will take the field in Thursday's opener against Akron with two new starting cornerbacks and a junior making his first-ever start at safety. The Knights will also line up against Zips coach Terry Bowden's offense, which was 16th in I-A in passing offense last season at 312.8 yards a game.
"I think Terry does a good job with their offense, they play a lot of wide receivers," Knights coach George O'Leary said. "We'll be well-tested. I look at coverage, but you (also) look at rush."
UCF has young defensive backs in Jacoby Glenn, Shaquill Griffin, Jeremy Davis and D.J. Killings — plus junior Brandon Alexander has moved to safety.