TAMPA — The Bulls began preparations for Saturday's game at N.C. State with more than half of their defensive starters held out with lingering injuries.
Only LB Brouce Mompremier, who is out indefinitely with a neck injury, is out for Saturday, and coach Jim Leavitt said he'll know Wednesday about the rest: DE George Selvie, DTs Terrell McClain and Aaron Harris, CB Tyller Roberts and S Carlton Williams.
With Mompremier out, USF has shifted strongside LB Tyrone McKenzie to the weak side, and junior Chris Robinson starts at strongside. USF has worked primarily in a nickel package with five defensive backs, and junior Kion Wilson, the starter at middle linebacker, was lined up next to McKenzie in seven-on-seven drills Monday.
WOLFPACK HURTING: N.C. State starting QB Russell Wilson, the ACC's offensive back of the week after an upset of No. 15 East Carolina, will not play against the Bulls because of an unspecified injury. LB Nate Irving, the team's leading tackler, is out with a lower leg injury.
DIG AT BULLS: USF got some extra motivation Monday from comments made last week by N.C. State coach Tom O'Brien. He consulted with other college programs about the spread offense and how to contain it defensively but told reporters last week that USF was not one of the schools he talked with.
"South Florida? Did you watch them against Oregon?" O'Brien said of the Ducks' 56-21 rout of the Bulls in the Sun Bowl. "Go look at that game. That was the spread that they were defending. I'm not saying anything about South Florida's defense, but if they're the gurus, we'd better go somewhere else."
WR BACK: Colby Erskin, a former walk-on from Seminole sidelined more than a year by a pair of torn knee ligaments, returned to practice and will travel for Saturday's game, Leavitt said. Leavitt said Erskin, who was timed as USF's fastest player in spring 2007, had a good practice, going full speed.
FSU: Ponder to start
TALLAHASSEE — Florida State offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher said third-year sophomore QB Christian Ponder would remain atop the depth chart for Saturday's game against Colorado in Jacksonville.
"He's our starting quarterback. He deserves a chance to play," Fisher said. "He didn't play as well as he needed to play, but he didn't play as poorly as it seemed."
Ponder was 6-of-18 for 52 yards with three interceptions in a 12-3 loss to Wake Forest last weekend.
Fisher called Ponder on Sunday to see how he was handling the loss and to reassure him that he gave the Seminoles the best chance to win.
"He was very supportive," Ponder said. "It helps me feel secure about my job."
NOTABLE: Senior DT Paul Griffin won't return this week, defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews said. He has missed the required four games for his involvement in the academic misconduct scandal but will be out for one more in an unrelated matter. … Freshman DT Moses McCray, the former Hillsborough High standout who started the first two games, was on crutches and a knee brace Monday after he was hit in the left knee last weekend, Andrews said. X-rays were negative; an MRI is scheduled Thursday. McCray's status is uncertain. Meanwhile, freshman TB Ty Jones of Middleton, who missed the past two games with a left ankle injury, practiced and could play Saturday. … The Oct. 4 game at Miami is set for 3:30 p.m. (Ch. 28).
UM: Marve honored
CORAL GABLES — QB Robert Marve, the former Plant standout, was named ACC rookie of the week after completing 16 of 22 passes for 212 yards and two touchdowns in a win over Texas A&M. Miami's Glenn Cook won the defensive lineman award after making nine tackles and returning a fumble for a TD.
UCF: Greco practices
ORLANDO — QB Michael Greco practiced after injuring his knee at Boston College on Saturday. Coach George O'Leary said Greco had limited mobility. LB Jordan Richards also practiced after missing the BC game with an undisclosed injury.
Times staff writer Brian Landman contributed to this report, which used information from the Orlando Sentinel and Times wires.