TAMPA — USF junior running back Mike Ford has been suspended for the first two games, against Wofford and Western Kentucky, for an unspecified violation of team rules.
USF announced the news Monday morning, declining to elaborate on why Ford won't be playing, though it may be related to a harsher policy on unexcused absences implemented by the athletic department this summer.
With junior running back Jamar Taylor sidelined for an unknown period with a knee injury, the Bulls will likely open without two of their most experienced running backs.
"I don't really think about anything other than you keep moving forward," coach Jim Leavitt said. "Mike's a good guy. He really has a good heart. I love him dearly. You've got to do the right things. That's all there is to it."
Ford was held out of a win against Florida Atlantic in October 2007 after missing classes as a freshman. He missed USF's first two practices two weeks ago during the final week of summer classes, and Leavitt said his absence from practice was because he was attending class.
Hine gets scholarship: Sophomore walk-on guard Chaz Hine has been placed on scholarship after earning his way onto the two-deep for the second year in a row. "(Hine) is a dream," Leavitt said. "He works his tail off, does well in school."
Impressive freshmen: Two redshirt freshmen, tight end Andreas Shields and corner George Baker, worked with the first units Monday after strong showings in Saturday's scrimmage. The Bulls scrimmage again Wednesday and Saturday.
UF: Missing Murphy
GAINESVILLE — With so much talk about who will take over departed receiver Percy Harvin's role, another critical area seems to be getting lost in the discussion.
Who will replace receiver Louis Murphy of Lakewood?
Coach Urban Meyer said Murphy's value was often overlooked and finding someone to fill his role may be as critical as replacing Harvin.
"He's (Murphy) the most underrated (player)," Meyer said. "He's starting for the Raiders. The coach called me and told me how proud he is of the guy. … Right now, we're having a hard time filling his void."
Meyer said senior Riley Cooper and redshirt sophomore Deonte Thompson are set to take over, and receivers coach Billy Gonzales said he needs players like Frankie Hammond to play more consistently.
JONES MAKING IMPACT: Former Middleton High standout A.J. Jones is making a strong push at linebacker. "The guy that's playing much better than he's ever played since he's been here is A.J. Jones," Meyer said. "He's earned a starting spot."
DOE WILL RETURN: Defensive coordinator Charlie Strong said linebacker Dustin Doe will return when his legal issues are resolved. Doe, suspended after being arrested on charges of driving with a suspended license, is working out on his own.
FSU: DT has surgery
TALLAHASSEE — Florida State will apparently be without defensive tackle Justin Mincey for its Sept. 7 opener against Miami, which would open up more time for sophomore Moses McCray of Hillsborough High.
Physicians repaired torn cartilage, a sprained lateral collateral ligament and posterior collateral ligament during arthroscopic surgery Monday.
McCray has been competing with Mincey for the starting assignment.
Miami DE hurting: Hurricanes defensive end Adewale Ojomo could miss the FSU game with an undisclosed injury. Ojomo got hurt "horsing around in the locker room with a couple players" Sunday, coach Randy Shannon said.
Around the nation
Meadowlands games: Syracuse will play three home games against Notre Dame and USC over the next seven years in the new stadium at the Meadowlands, the Associated Press reported. The Orange reportedly will face USC in 2012 and Notre Dame in 2014 and 2016.
New Mexico: An Albuquerque lawyer claims Sylvia Lopez, 54, a New Mexico football administrative assistant, was improperly fired after coach Mike Locksley determined she wasn't "a younger gal" who would entice recruits. Athletic director Paul Krebs disputed the allegations.
Times staff writer Antonya English contributed to this report, which used information from Times wires.