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Early start means early wakeup call for Florida Gators

he’s a runner: FSU linebacker Dekoda Watson will add  speed in the pursuit of Virginia Tech QB Tyrod Taylor Saturday.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

he’s a runner: FSU linebacker Dekoda Watson will add speed in the pursuit of Virginia Tech QB Tyrod Taylor Saturday.

GAINESVILLE — When No. 5 Florida hosts Kentucky Saturday, it will be the first early home game for the Gators since their 31-30 loss to Mississippi on Sept. 27, also a 12:30 start.

Coach Urban Meyer enjoys early kickoffs but plans to change the pregame schedule a little. On Oct. 11, the Gators defeated LSU 51-21 at home in an 8 p.m. start.

"We're going to get them up a little bit earlier, get them moving around," Meyer said. "Eight o'clock games are a little different than those noon games or 12:30 games."

CB Joe Haden won't mind the chance to watch some games after UF finishes Saturday. He said he wakes up for early games around 7 a.m. with players required to be in bed by 10 the night before.

"I like early games myself," Haden said, "because we get to get up and go play."

INJURY UPDATE: LB Dustin Doe practiced Thursday and is expected to play against Kentucky. The junior has missed two games after double hernia surgery. Meyer said RB Emmanuel Moody (ankle) hobbled around a little and is questionable for Saturday. The redshirt sophomore did not have a noticeable limp as he walked after practice. RB Chris Rainey (shoulder) had a brace on, but Meyer said he's fine.

USF: Win's the thing

TAMPA — USF wrapped up practices Thursday before traveling to Louisville, looking for its first win at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.

The Bulls have allowed 100-yard rushers (Pitt's LeSean McCoy, Syracuse's Curtis Brinkley) in consecutive games. Defensive coordinator Wally Burnham said the Bulls spent time working on stopping the run in practice, but the team has a bigger focus.

"We're going to work on our weaknesses every week, but the stat we're most worried about is wins," he said. "I worry about all that other mess, but that's not what's important to me. I just care about winning football games."

Burnham also said that senior S Louis Gachette will be used in both nickel and base defenses in place of Danny Verpaele, who broke his foot and will miss the rest of the season.

Coach Jim Leavitt said RB Demetris Murray was named scout team player of the week, but won't be able to attend the game because of a wedding.

FSU: LB Watson all set

TALLAHASSEE — After making three or four trips each day to FSU's training facility for rehabilitation, junior LB Dekoda Watson said he believes he will be ready to play Saturday against Virginia Tech.

Watson missed most of last week's game at N.C. State with a pulled hamstring, but was encouraged after running without pain in Thursday's practice. He admitted he hadn't tried to run at full speed.

"That's the one thing I'm worried about, going wide open," Watson said.

Watson is the Seminoles' fastest linebacker and one of the defense's top playmakers. In a victory at Miami, he intercepted one pass, deflected three others and had a tackle for loss. His speed would be useful against Virginia Tech QB Tyrod Taylor.

"You'd like to have all the speed you can get," FSU coach Bobby Bowden said. "It takes speed to catch speed."

PONDER READY: Sophomore QB Christian Ponder, who sat out some drills this week, said he felt fine after practice and will be ready to start. Ponder said his ribs were sore after the N.C. State game, but added that his pain was nothing more than typical midseason bumps and bruises. He participated in extensive passing drills Wednesday and Thursday.

UM: Hill switch works

MIAMI — Hurricanes S Ryan Hill played wide receiver at UM his first two seasons. Last week, he started against Duke at safety for the first time and impressed his coaches enough to earn another start. He has recovered two fumbles this season.

"At the time of the last position change I got a lot of phone calls, people saying, 'He's in limbo, he's going back and forth,' " Hill told the Miami Herald. "I knew what the opportunity was, and that's why I jumped at it."

UCF: Greco healthy

ORLANDO — UCF junior QB Michael Greco told the Orlando Sentinel that he is at full strength and wants to play. Greco (bursa sac) was hurt Sept. 20 against BC, then again Oct. 4 versus SMU and played only one series against Miami. "I'm good," Greco told the Sentinel. "I'm ready to play. I want to play. Hopefully coach will give me a shot to play. I just want to go out there and help the team win."

Times correspondents Ira Schoffel and Joe Rienzi contributed to this report, which used information from Times wires.

>>fast facts

Up next

Miami vs. Wake Forest: noon Saturday, ESPN2

UF vs. Kentucky: 12:30 Saturday, Ch. 38

USF at Louisville: 3:30 Saturday, BHSN

FSU vs. Virginia Tech: 3:30 Saturday, Ch. 28

Early start means early wakeup call for Florida Gators 10/23/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 23, 2008 10:08pm]

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