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Miami RB Johnson feels fresh, ready for USF

Duke Johnson runs the opening kickoff back 95 yards against Savannah State. The running back didn’t play much against the overmatched foe.

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Duke Johnson runs the opening kickoff back 95 yards against Savannah State. The running back didn’t play much against the overmatched foe.

CORAL GABLES — This time last year, Miami RB Duke Johnson was starting to feel a whole lot of football wear-and-tear type of pain. Eventually, it got to the point where it not only hampered his play, but even kept him from walking around normally.

These days, nothing hurts.

That might be a great sign for No. 15 Miami heading into Saturday's game at USF at Raymond James Stadium.

And Johnson figures to be well-rested — since the end of the Florida game on Sept. 7, Miami's top offensive weapon has gotten just nine touches.

"It's huge," coach Al Golden said. "It's such a big factor in terms of keeping our guys fresh. We only have five guys who are averaging over 45 plays a game right now and that's huge. So that's money in the bank, now. We've got to use it now."

Johnson, a sophomore, put on 8 pounds of muscle over the offseason in anticipation of a bigger workload. The Hurricanes haven't had to tax him much, but his results haven't dipped. He has a touchdown in all three games.

"I'm not battling any injuries right now," he said. "I'm 100 percent healthy."

Times wires

USF: Keep the ball

TAMPA — Turnovers have plagued the USF offense during the first three games of the season, but coach Willie Taggart expects improvement Saturday against Miami after the team put in extra work during the bye week to try to solve the issues.

"I think that's something that's going to stop," Taggart said Tuesday. "We can't go the whole year turning the ball over for touchdowns, that's unheard of. I think as soon as that stops, you'll see a different ball club."

The defense has given up only 67 of 102 points scored against the Bulls. Opposing defenses have scored five touchdowns.

"You really haven't seen our offense yet, because we've been down and we're not built to come from behind yet," Taggart said "We don't have the personnel to do those things yet. So, it's important that we stop spotting teams points and we have to play smart to keep ourselves in the ballgame."

REAL DEAL: Taggart touted Miami as one of the best programs in the country and a national championship contender.

"I don't see any weaknesses on their football team right now. I see a lot of talent and all athletes," Taggart said. "They're not a tropical storm anymore; I know that. They're a hurricane now, but we'll be ready."

THIS AND THAT: Junior LB Reshard Cliett (shoulder) practiced and could play Saturday. … USF's American Athletic Conference opener against Cincinnati on Oct. 5 will start at 7 p.m.

Jeff Odom, Times correspondent

FSU: Hunter in the air

TALLAHASSEE — Florida State junior safety Tyler Hunter's status remains unknown for Saturday's game at Boston College after he has missed consecutive days of practice with a neck injury.

Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher said he did not have a timetable for Hunter's return.

"That's up to the doctors, they're still evaluating him and to see where he is and we have to wait day by day," Fisher said. "He's in the game plan."

Hunter left in the first quarter Saturday against Bethune-Cookman, though Fisher said Tuesday he could not specify what the injury was.

Orlando Sentinel

UCF: Spurrier wary

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said he understands that UCF is a challenge on the road and that he knows how big of a game it is for the Knights to host the No. 12 Gamecocks.

"We are playing UCF, a team that is sky high," Spurrier, the former Florida coach, said at his weekly news conference. "A lot of them say this might be the biggest game they have ever had in the history of the school. … So we know we are going to get their best shot."

Orlando Sentinel

Miami RB Johnson feels fresh, ready for USF 09/24/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 10:36pm]
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