Saturday, December 16, 2017
Colleges

Gators brace for Hurricanes' versatile back

GAINESVILLE — During Miami's 34-6 win Friday against Florida Atlantic, Duke Johnson rushed for 186 yards and a touchdown. Going back to last season, he has averaged 9.0 yards a carry in his past five games.

So how will No. 12 Florida try to contain a threat such as Johnson?

"You've got to be disciplined in your gaps, No. 1," coach Will Muschamp said Wednesday. "He's a guy that can take the ball anywhere. They do a nice job in their zone schemes in showing a stretch look and cutting the ball back."

The only running back to rush for more than 100 yards against Florida in 2012 was Georgia's Todd Gurley (118). But an agile runner such as Johnson, who also catches the ball out of the backfield, will test a defense replacing seven starters from last season.

Two of UF's standout defenders return from suspension this week: CB Loucheiz Purifoy and LB Antonio Morrison.

Injury update: RB Matt Jones (viral infection) returns to the starting lineup and the former Armwood High standout can expect to be on the field plenty. "It's just we'll see what he can handle, but I expect he can handle it all," offensive coordinator Brent Pease said.

Starting LT D.J. Humphries (sprained MCL) and DT Dominique Easley (flu) joined practice this week and both will play against Miami.

G Jon Halapio out of St. Petersburg Catholic (torn chest muscle) is not expected to return until the Tennessee game Sept. 21.

USF: Playing for the team

TAMPA — Speaking publicly for the first time since he left Notre Dame last year, DE Aaron Lynch said he's striving to be more of a "team player" at USF.

"I was a team player (at Notre Dame), but at the same time, I was really all about me in a way," he said. "When it came to football, I wanted to make plays. Now, sitting out a year, being around the players … it's made me want to do more for my teammates and not just for myself."

Lynch, a freshman All-American for the Irish in 2011, had three tackles in his Bulls debut, but the line had zero sacks in a loss to McNeese State.

Coach Willie Taggart said many players, including Lynch, created problems by playing outside the scheme and not staying in their roles.

"The key to this defense, really, is to work hard, trust each other and do our role," Lynch said. "We need to be in our gaps when we need to be."

Greg Auman, Times staff writer

UM: Just a bit wary

CORAL GABLES — Though Gators QB Jeff Driskel's longest completion last week against Toledo was 26 yards, Miami coach Al Golden said it would be a mistake to overlook UF's passing offense. "They've recruited really well at the wide receiver position, and they have some veterans that can impact a game," Golden said. "Our guys better be ready to cover them deep because they're talented. … They want you to stop all that in the middle, commit as many guys as they can, and then get a shot on you."

Injuries: Golden said the Hurricanes are fairly healthy, though WR Rashawn Scott (shoulder) will be out about a month.

South Florida Sun Sentinel

UCF: Last time painful

ORLANDO — The Knights are keenly aware of their last meeting with FIU, a 17-10 loss in 2011. "That's a humbling experience," LB Terrance Plummer said. "You kind of wipe it out, but it's still a little piece in the back of your mind," said WR Jeff Godfrey, who started at quarterback in 2011. Florida International will be short a weapon. CB Richard Leonard, the team's top kick and punt returner, will not play this season because of academic issues.

Orlando Sentinel

FSU: Healing up

TALLAHASSEE — The Seminoles have the week off, which will allow RB James Wilder to recover from an injured shoulder. "He's doing fine, he'll be day to day," coach Jimbo Fisher said of the former Plant High star who had 58 yards against Pitt. "He's got a banged-up shoulder, but nothing very serious."

Orlando Sentinel

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