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USF to go with freshman kicker

UCF’s Joe Burnett jumps to block a kick by Delbert Alvarado in the third quarter of Saturday’s game. Alvarado, 1-for-4 on field goals this season, will be replaced as kicker and stick to punting.

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

UCF’s Joe Burnett jumps to block a kick by Delbert Alvarado in the third quarter of Saturday’s game. Alvarado, 1-for-4 on field goals this season, will be replaced as kicker and stick to punting.

TAMPA — Wednesday's practice brought two significant changes for USF, as coach Jim Leavitt said freshman Maikon Bonani will handle field goals, replacing junior Delbert Alvarado, and starting RG Zach Hermann (broken foot) is expected to miss at least a month.

"We're going to go with Bonani," Leavitt said of the two-time All-State kicker from Lake Wales. "The biggest thing probably is Delbert doing the punting and the kicking. You really don't see many people in the country that do all that. He's been punting so well."

Alvarado has struggled with field goals, making just one 20-yarder out of four attempts. He missed a 42-yard potential winner Saturday against UCF, forcing overtime in USF's 31-24 win.

Alvarado, who holds the Big East record with a 56-yard kick in 2006, struggled early last season but rebounded, hitting 10 of his final 11 attempts.

USF's offensive line took a hit in losing Hermann, a sophomore from East Lake who has started every game since the start of last season. He'll be replaced by sophomore Jake Sims, a former walk-on who entered the preseason as the starting right tackle. He could also move in at tackle, with Ryan Schmidt moving to guard, where he started all of last season.

"It changes things," Leavitt said. "That's a guy that's started for us for two years. … That won't be an issue in this game. I have great confidence in (Sims)."

Leavitt said RBs Mike Ford and Ben Williams, who have been limited by ankle injuries, will dress Friday. "They both say they're all right," Leavitt said. "We didn't do a lot with them today."

UF: Cooper 100 percent

GAINESVILLE — Junior WR Riley Cooper said he is finally "100 percent healthy." The Clearwater native has battled many foot injuries. "It feels different," Cooper said. "I feel great." Now he hopes to finally live up to the potential coach Urban Meyer has been raving about. "That's the plan," Cooper said.

He has three catches for 29 yards through two games. One of the Gators' difficulties has been getting the ball to all their playmakers. St. Petersburg native Louis Murphy leads the team with six catches for 128 yards.

Cooper is QB Tim Tebow's roommate, but that doesn't seem to give him any privileges.

"He's my buddy, he's my friend," Cooper said. "We're just roommates. I don't think it carries onto the field all that much."

PULLING FOR OLD FRIENDS: DL coach Dan McCarney, who held the same position at USF in 2007, said he keeps in touch with Bulls DE George Selvie and recently spoke to the junior about his upcoming game against Kansas.

"He's one of my all-time favorite young men, and I wished him luck," McCarney said. "I know it's going to be a great matchup. Wish I could be there. I'll be at two high school games Friday night. …I'm going to try and get close to a radio."

FSU: Center scramble

TALLAHASSEE — With second-team C A.J. Ganguzza (knee) hobbled and third-teamer Brandon Davis serving a three-game suspension, Florida State is making contingency plans.

Coach Bobby Bowden said starting LG Rodney Hudson would be the initial replacement should something happen to C Ryan McMahon. RG Will Furlong also is undergoing a crash course at the position.

"Center scares me a little bit," Bowden said.

Furlong, who has never played center at any level, said line coach Rick Trickett told him to expect to play some Saturday against Chattanooga.

STICK 'EM: Freshman LB Vince Williams won the team's "Hit Stick" for delivering the biggest hit against Western Carolina. Players vote each week on the award.

JONES UPDATE: Freshman RB Ty Jones, who went down with a sprained left ankle in the opener, isn't expected to play against Chattanooga. Bowden said he hopes the former Middleton star will be back Sept. 20 to face Wake Forest.

UM: RB James out

CORAL GABLES — Junior RB Javarris James (high ankle sprain) is expected to miss three games. Also, the game Sept. 20 at Texas A&M will start at either 3:30 or 8 p.m. at ABC's discretion; the time will be announced Sunday.

Times correspondents Phil Kegler and Ira Schoffel contributed to this report, which used information from Times wires.

>>FAST FACTS

Up next

USF: vs. Kansas, 8 Friday, ESPN2

FSU: vs. Chattanooga, 3:45 Saturday, ESPNU

Florida: at Tennessee, 3:30 Sept. 20, Ch. 10

Miami: at Texas A&M, Sept. 20, time and TV TBA

USF to go with freshman kicker 09/10/08 [Last modified: Thursday, September 11, 2008 7:45pm]

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