GAINESVILLE — Reinforcements could be on the way for Florida's defense.
Coach Will Muschamp said Wednesday that LB Jelani Jenkins, who broke his right thumb against Texas A&M on Sept. 8, might return Oct. 6 against LSU.
"They changed his cast, and I want to say in eight days they're going to pull a pin out of there and take another look at it," Muschamp said. "He's going to start lifting and running (Wednesday)."
Muschamp also said DE Dominique Easley is questionable for Saturday's home game against Kentucky. He left last week's game at Tennessee with swelling in his knee.
"We were just trying to stabilize," Muschamp said. "He's still got a little swelling on the knee, and he's moving around okay."
In addition, T Matt Patchan was ruled out with a pectoral strain. Muschamp said there is no timetable for the Armwood High graduate to return.
More turnovers: Florida finished 113th in Division I-A in turnover margin in 2011 at minus-12. In their first two games this season, the Gators forced a combined one. They doubled that in Game 3 with two interceptions against Tennessee.
But defensive coordinator Dan Quinn expects more.
"We thought we maybe had a chance on a couple of those to get the ball out," Quinn said of the Tennessee game. "We're really trying to get three or more a game."
USF: Offense line changes could come
TAMPA — As USF looks to correct the offensive line problems from last week's 23-13 loss to Rutgers, it is considering moving senior Mark Popek back to left tackle and inserting senior Damien Edwards at left guard for Saturday's game at Ball State.
Coach Skip Holtz, who has expressed frustration over the way sophomores Austin Reiter and Darrell Williams handled their first Big East starts, said the staff is evaluating its options.
"Damien has played both (guard and tackle)," Holtz said. "Mark has played both. Darrell … has only played tackle. If something were to happen to Darrell, do you move Mark out?
"We're kind of in a rotation process right now with those guys. They'll probably all play. The flexibility of the two fifth-year seniors in Mark Popek and Damien Edwards … helps us right now."
Another change: S Ernie Tabuteau won't be back as the nickel defensive back after missing assignments on third downs against Rutgers. Holtz said one option is sophomore LB Reshard Cliett with strongside LB Sam Barrington moving inside to middle linebacker. Holtz said he would eventually like to have younger linebackers such as Cliett, redshirt freshman Zack Bullock and freshman Tashon Whitehurst see more time.
THIS AND THAT: RB Marcus Shaw, out two games with an ankle injury, has shown enough progress that he'll travel to Ball State. He was the Bulls' leading rusher in the season-opening win against Chattanooga. … S JaQuez Jenkins has missed the past two practices with lingering back issues, but Holtz was confident he would return today. Holtz's general policy is a player doesn't start if he doesn't practice on Tuesday or Wednesday and doesn't play if he doesn't practice by Thursday.
Greg Auman, Times staff writer
Miami: Coach watches freshman's workload
CORAL GABLES — Miami freshman RB/KR Duke Johnson had 14 carries Saturday against Bethune-Cookman, one more than his first two games combined.
"I don't think his play count has been crazy," coach Al Golden said. "I don't think we're getting to a point where he's going to carry it 30 times. (Eduardo Clements and Mike James), I want all three of them active in terms of the running game."
Johnson's 27 carries represent 29.3 percent of Miami's runs and rank second on the team behind James' 32.
Coming back: WR Allen Hurns is "a full go" for Saturday's game at Georgia Tech, Golden said. The junior led the team in catches before sustaining a head injury during the first series against Kansas State on Sept. 8.
South Florida Sun Sentinel