Revamped USF offensive line dispels doubts

TAMPA — Offensive line was supposed to be a major question mark this season with three starters graduated, but the position has been solid in USF's first three wins, allowing just three sacks for the second-lowest total in the Big East.

"(Coaches) want us to dominate and set the tone for the running game," senior G Jeremiah Warren said. "We feel it's our duty to give our part to the team."

QB B.J. Daniels, who has six touchdown passes and one interception, said the protection and time he has had in the pocket, along with a strong traditional running game, have helped him play at a high level going into Saturday's home game against UTEP.

"Our front five has really done a great job," Daniels said.

THIS AND THAT: S Tyson Butler sat out practice with a hamstring injury. Holtz said starting CB Quenton Washington would have to return healthy from a lingering knee injury and practice today if he's to play Saturday. … USF leads the Big East in third-down defense, allowing a 24.4 percent conversion rate that is ninth nationally.

UF: Punt blocks legal

GAINESVILLE — Florida coach Will Muschamp and Kentucky coach Joker Phillips squashed reports Wednesday that the Gators use an illegal punt-blocking technique.

When asked about Florida's ability to block punts, Phillips pointed out that Gators linemen hook opposing blockers to create a lane for Chris Rainey to break through. The Lexington Herald-Leader speculated that this was against the rules, something Philips cleared up.

"Everybody does it," Phillips said. "We try to do it also, so it's nothing illegal. I wasn't saying that it's anything illegal. I was saying they do a great job of it."

Steve Shaw, the SEC's coordinator of officials, confirmed Wednesday that the Gators' technique does not break rules.

In its past three Kentucky games, UF has blocked three punts and two field goals.

Florida has led the league in blocked kicks four times in the past five years. The latest one involved Rainey, who broke the school record with his fifth blocked kick. "We play hard and coach hard, and I'm real pleased with what we did," Muschamp said. "They didn't throw any flags, did they, on that play?"

Taming Easley: Players and coaches have defended DT Dominique Easley's theatrics after plays, when he often dances. But defensive coordinator Dan Quinn said Easley must balance playing with passion and drawing personal fouls.

"There's definitely a line," he said. "None of the guys are worth any personal foul."

Injury update: TE Jordan Reed (hamstring) remains questionable for Saturday.

Tyler Jett, Times correspondent

UM: Henderson back

CORAL GABLES — OT Seantrel Henderson participated in a light workout with the team, his first time in helmet and pads since having back surgery during the preseason.

Coach Al Golden said Henderson is expected to go full contact sometime next week, with hopes of playing against Bethune-Cookman.

tight end's career over: TE Blake Ayles, who transferred from USC in the spring, ended his playing career. Ayle, who has an undisclosed head injury, could have sought a medical redshirt.

South Florida Sun Sentinel

UCF: Strong practices

ORLANDO — Coach George O'Leary said UCF had four strong practices this week. The Knights depart today for Friday's game at BYU.

O'Leary said players focused on correcting mistakes they made during a loss at FIU and preparing for the Cougars.

"Everyone did what they had to do during the week," he said.

new returner: Junior Josh Robinson lost his punt-return job after fumbling against Charleston Southern and FIU. WRs J.J. Worton and A.J. Guyton are the likely top candidates for the job.

Iliana Limon, Orlando Sentinel

>>fast facts

Up next

UCF: at BYU, 8 Friday, ESPN

FSU: at Clemson, 3:30 Saturday, ESPN

Miami: vs. Kansas State, 3:30 Saturday, ESPNU

Florida: at Kentucky, 7 Saturday, ESPN

USF: vs. UTEP, 7 Saturday

Revamped USF offensive line dispels doubts 09/22/11 [Last modified: Thursday, September 22, 2011 12:03am]

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