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FSU's Fisher praises QB Weatherford

FEELING GOOD: Florida receiver Riley Cooper, scoring against Tennessee last season, has shaken off injuries and is competing to start. “He’s pushing through,’’ receivers coach Billy Gonzales says.

JAMES BORCHUCK | Times

FEELING GOOD: Florida receiver Riley Cooper, scoring against Tennessee last season, has shaken off injuries and is competing to start. “He’s pushing through,’’ receivers coach Billy Gonzales says.

TALLAHASSEE — Fifth-year senior Drew Weatherford, who has started 33 games the past three seasons but remains in competition with Christian Ponder and D'Vontrey Richardson, was praised by offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher on Wednesday.

Fisher, who likes to keep pressure on his quarterbacks, said Weatherford is staying mentally focused amid talk of Ponder and Richardson's improvement.

"He seems to be doing very good," Fisher said. "I'm sure he is frustrated at times, no doubt, if a guy has played that much. It's not that he has done anything bad, it's that the other guys have earned the right."

Weatherford is 20-13 as the starter since arriving in 2004 from Land O'Lakes High.

"I'm glad I don't read the message boards and all that stuff," he said. "The backup quarterback is always the favorite player on the team. I've obviously learned how to deal with that situation. That's not something I'm wasting any energy on."

OPENER ON PAY-PER-VIEW: FSU's season opener against visiting Division I-AA Western Carolina on Sept. 6 will be available on pay-per-view, the school and Sun Sports announced. Contact your local cable/satellite provider for the price.

PRESSLEY UPDATE: For the second day in a row, junior college transfer Tavares Pressley worked out in shorts. The junior running back will be in a helmet and shoulder pads today and Friday. He was cleared academically Tuesday. "He actually looks in good shape," Fisher said. "I'm very anxious to see him in pads."

EXTRA POINTS: Freshman running back Jermaine Thomas missed his fourth consecutive practice due to academic eligibility concerns. ... Freshman linebacker Nigel Carr was carted off the field near the end of practice with a bag of ice on his right knee.

UF: Meyer musings

GAINESVILLE — Florida coach Urban Meyer says youths are not what they used to be.

Meyer majored in psychology in college and almost followed that path professionally. He uses that background when it comes to getting through to his players.

"The older I get, the more philosophical I get about what our job really is," Meyer said at the 38th annual UF Joint Civic Club Luncheon. "Basically my classroom is this — failure is not an option. … Imagine whatever time necessary to make sure that F or D becomes a C or B or in some cases an A. … The difficulty now compared to what it was years ago is phenomenal.''

The event marks the beginning of the new school year.

riley IMPRESSES: During his first two years at UF, receiver Riley Cooper has battled an assortment of injuries that stunted his development and led many to label him as only a deep threat (12 career receptions, 22.8 yards per catch). Now the Clearwater native is battling for a starting spot with junior transfer Carl Moore.

"He's developing, and the good thing about Riley is he's pushing through," receivers coach Billy Gonzales said.

USF: Running QBs

TAMPA — Having his top quarterbacks protected from contact and not allowed to scramble in scrimmages this preseason has reminded offensive coordinator Greg Gregory how key a mobile quarterback is in USF's offense.

In the final preseason scrimmage, the only touchdowns were from freshman quarterbacks B.J. Daniels and Evan Landi, who are "live" and thus can scramble and take hits.

"You can definitely see how important it is to run the quarterback," Gregory said. "We put B.J. and Evan in, and it was a completely different offense. They're live, and we're able to move the ball."

Starter Matt Grothe and top backup Grant Gregory are both threats to run and pass. Greg Gregory said on designed runs last year quarterbacks averaged better than 6 yards per carry.

COMMITMENT: Trent Barnes, a 6-foot-3, 242-pound tight end/offensive lineman from Dublin, Ga., has committed to USF, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Times staff writers Brian Landman and Greg Auman and correspondent Phil Kegler contributed to this report, which used information from Times wires.

FSU's Fisher praises QB Weatherford 08/20/08 [Last modified: Thursday, August 21, 2008 2:29pm]

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