TAMPA — Against a Florida State offense that is putting up what USF coach Skip Holtz called "video game-type numbers" the Bulls need to make the most of their own offensive possessions Saturday against a team ranking second nationally in total defense.
"I think the bottom line is you're going to have to score some points," he said. "I don't think this one's going to be about trying to go 3 yards in a cloud of dust and just control the ball because you're going to end up punting the ball quite a bit. Their leading tackler is a defensive end, which gives you a little bit of insight that you don't get past the front four very often."
Clemson put up 37 points on FSU, getting creative with play action and trick plays. USF offensive coordinator Todd Fitch said the Bulls would have to adapt quickly to move the ball.
"You've got to find a niche," he said. "Hopefully, with the variety of ways we can run the ball, we can find something that kind of clicks. We've studied the Clemson game pretty hard. We've got to find the thing that's in a groove that night and try to exploit them."
STARTERS RETURN: CB George Baker, the only defensive back who has started all four games, said he's looking forward to having a healthier secondary. Usual starters CB Kayvon Webster and safeties JaQuez Jenkins and Mark Joyce saw their play greatly limited against Ball State while recovering from lingering injuries.
"JaQuez was back running around good today and Kayvon Webster, he was running around good, so it's good to know that we're going to have those guys back," Baker said.
USF will need all the help it can get to slow QB E.J. Manuel, who has eight TD passes and one interception.
Joe Polito, Times correspondent
FSU: Kicker shakes it off
TALLAHASSEE — Dustin Hopkins left Doak Campbell Stadium Saturday night in disbelief.
Before his two first-half misses against Clemson, it had been two years since he had shanked multiple kicks in a game.
"I've had bad games before and I've been in this spot where, you have a bad game, you bounce back," said Hopkins, who is 3-for-5 on field goals this season, and 66-for-87 career.
SAD TRIP: RB Devonta Freeman was back at practice after a brief trip home to Miami. Last week, the sophomore's brother, Anthony Darling, was shot and killed in South Florida in an apparent altercation. Freeman was on FSU's sideline Saturday.
Coley Harvey, Orlando Sentinel
UM: Unfamiliar rival
CORAL GABLES — In a scheduling quirk, Miami and North Carolina State, ACC rivals who face off Saturday, have not met since 2008.
"It's my first time playing N.C. State," said Miami CB Brandon McGee — and he's a senior.
According to player participation charts from that '08 meeting, only two players on the field that day will likely play: Miami WR Davon Johnson and N.C. State LB Sterling Lucas.
"We still prepare for every team the same way," McGee said. "It's going to be a big game."
UCF: RB Murray returning
ORLANDO — UCF coach George O'Leary said RB Latavius Murray will likely play Saturday against Missouri, but will not start. Murray, who entered the season as the starter, injured his shoulder in the opener against Akron and missed three games. O'Leary said Murray has practiced in a yellow jersey that indicates he is returning from injury.