GAINESVILLE — The first two weeks of the 2013 season were the longest of redshirt senior LG Jon Halapio's life.
But after sitting out Florida's first two games with a partially torn chest muscle, the former St. Petersburg Catholic standout will make his season debut Saturday against Tennessee.
Halapio will wear an upper-body brace to prevent his arm from shifting back and tearing the pectoral muscle. The brace hasn't affected his mobility during practice.
"It doesn't slow me down at all," said Halapio, who started every game at right guard the past two seasons. "… Practicing last week and this week was a confidence-booster for me."
His return is a promising sign for a banged-up line, which has lost RT Chaz Green (Tampa Catholic, torn labrum) for the season and seen OL Tyler Moore (Countryside, sprained ankle) and LT D.J. Humphries (sprained knee ligament) battle injuries.
FSU: Trust in his receivers
TALLAHASSEE — QB Jameis Winston attributes the passing game's success to his receivers, a unit comprised of primarily juniors and seniors.
On two occasions in the win over Nevada, Winston hit tightly covered receivers.
In one instance, Christian Green, a junior from Tampa Catholic, jumped between two defenders for a 19-yard gain. On the same drive, junior Rashad Greene came down with a 24-yard touchdown over a defensive back. Senior Kenny Shaw also held on to a ball in traffic on a 24-yard touchdown catch.
"Any young quarterback would dream of that. When you have 10 other guys around you that know what they're doing, have been there before, it makes your job easier," Winston said.
Injury report: Reserve LT Wilson Bell is likely to be out 4-6 weeks after tearing the medial collateral ligament in his knee.
B-CU: Hot back to face FSU
DAYTONA BEACH — Wildcats RB Anthony Jordan heads into this week's game against FSU having been selected the MEAC offensive player of the week. Jordan rushed for a career-high 150 yards and a touchdown on 21 attempts in a win over FIU.
UM: Big favorite in run game
CORAL GABLES — Savannah State, the Hurricanes' opponent this week, was 1-10 last year and opened this season with blowout losses to Georgia Southern and Troy. In three games, Savannah State's entire offense has mustered 52 rushing yards, while Hurricanes RB Duke Johnson has gained 245 yards by himself in two games.
South Florida Sun Sentinel
USF: Youthful enthusiasm
TAMPA — Bulls players and coaches are trying to accentuate the positives hidden amid the rubble of the season's first three games.
One nugget of hope they've excavated is the collective play of the defensive rookies.
While true freshman LB Nigel Harris' impact (16 tackles, forced fumble) has been well-documented, a couple of his classmates also have stood out. Among them is CB Johnny Ward (6 feet, 163 pounds), who has eight tackles and an interception.
"He's not the biggest in the room, but he plays all-out," coach Willie Taggart said. "I think that's what you see with those young guys. They go all-out all the time. It's like they don't know any better, and you love it."
AUDIBLE: "We're just in a storm right now. We've just got to keep driving through that storm, and sooner or later we'll get through it and see the light and look back and … forget about that storm." — Taggart
Joey Knight, Times staff writer