TAMPA — As Saturday's USF-Louisville kickoff grows nearer, the status of the Bulls' four most prominent injured players remains unclear.
QB Steven Bench practiced again Wednesday, appearing to move well despite a brace on his right knee. RB Marcus Shaw (hamstring) practiced Tuesday but did not appear Wednesday during the portion of practice open to the media.
Coach Willie Taggart, who didn't address reporters Wednesday, could update the status of both today.
Defensively, linemen Tevin Mims (leg) and Elkino Watson (knee), both of whom missed the Oct. 12 win at UConn, are game-time decisions, according to defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan. Watson practiced.
"The amount they contribute and the amount of play time they get will be based on how they feel that day and where the whole situation of the game is going," Bresnahan said.
FAB 14: Saturday's homecoming festivities will include on-field recognition of the 14 alumni who joined the football program when it began in 1996 (with no games that year) and stuck around through its first four seasons.
FSU: Rising stock
TALLAHASSEE — The accolades are still rolling in after QB Jameis Winston led FSU to a rout over Clemson.
Winston is now second behind Oregon QB Marcus Mariota in the Scripps Heisman Poll, which has correctly predicted the Heisman Trophy winner 22 of 26 years. They are followed by three more quarterbacks: Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M), A.J. McCarron (Alabama) and Sean Mannion (Oregon State).
Out for season: Freshman LB Matthew Thomas will have season-ending shoulder surgery and should be eligible for a medical redshirt.
UCF: Growing up
ORLANDO — Knights junior QB Blake Bortles showed his maturity in leading the winning drive against Louisville, coach George O'Leary said.
"He's not a kid that ever gets too high or too low," O'Leary said. "I think the South Carolina game he started feeling sorry for himself in the second half. And that's something I spoke to him about. You go as your quarterback goes. You can't be having that broke-jaw thing on the sideline. It doesn't work."
Bortles threw for a season-high 358 yards against South Carolina, but had two interceptions that helped the Gamecocks hang on for a 3-point win.
Looking ahead: The Knights will travel to the "Big House" and play at Michigan on Sept. 10, 2016, the school announced.
UF: Calling all coaches
GAINESVILLE — Coach Will Muschamp is so concerned about finding solutions to the Gators' woes during this off week he pulled several assistants off the recruiting trail.
Usually a bye week is prime recruiting time, but Muschamp said it's imperative the Gators improve over the season's final five games.
"You go back to technique and fundamentals, you simplify," Muschamp said. "We've got to get our guys playing faster; we've got to get our guys playing with more confidence."
INJURIES MOUNT: LB Jeremi Powell, a Pinellas Park High grad, tore an ACL in his knee during the loss to Missouri and is out for the season. He played in all seven games and had become a key part on special teams. LB Ronald Powell (ankle) missed the Missouri game and will not practice this week, but he could return for the Georgia game. QB Tyler Murphy (shoulder) will not practice this week.
Antonya English, Times staff writer
UM: Honoring Vinny
CORAL GABLES — Former QB Vinny Testaverde, who won the 1986 Heisman Trophy and is scheduled to be inducted in the College Football Hall of Fame in December, will be honored at Saturday's game against Wake Forest, serving as the honorary captain.
Testaverde, who was 23-3 as a starter and led the Hurricanes to three bowl berths, went on to play for the Bucs (1987-92) and seven other NFL teams.
South Florida Sun Sentinel