TALLAHASSEE — Statistically, there's not much to compare between the offenses of Miami, which Florida State beat soundly last week, and Boston College, its opponent on Saturday.
But given the way the Eagles have pounded the Seminoles in the running game in each of the teams' past two games — both BC wins — there's no way Seminoles defenders are taking the Eagles offense lightly.
Largely on the legs of Jacksonville native Montel Harris, BC rushed for 121 yards in 2008 and 179 a year ago. This year, however, FSU comes into the game with the 12th-ranked rush defense in Division I-A, allowing 93.8 yards per game.
Senior DE Markus White started both games and said regardless of BC's current offensive struggles (105th nationally in total offense and Harris averaging 77.4 rushing yards), many Seminole veterans are thinking of this game as a benchmark to prove just how far they have come.
"We just get to prove the talents that each player that has played in the last couple of years … we get to prove the talents we truly have," said White, who has 2½ sacks and two fumble recoveries this season. "We get to go out there and show what we have."
Watch for him: Sophomore LB Luke Kuechly likely owns a prominent place in the Seminoles' scouting report. He had 20 tackles — 13 solo — a week ago against N.C. State and leads I-A with 14.2 per game.
Injury update: Junior RB Jermaine Thomas, who scored three touchdowns against Miami before injuring his toe, has been practicing this week and is expected to play Saturday.
UF: Miss. State run game concerns Meyer
GAINESVILLE — Florida's defense is coming off one of its worst performances against the run this season, and the unit does not have much time to adjust.
After surrendering 161 yards on the ground to LSU last week, Florida faces Mississippi State and its rushing attack, which ranks third in the SEC at 214 yards per game.
Those stats were boosted last week when the Bulldogs gashed Houston for 409. The Bulldogs feature four players with more than 100 yards, led by junior Vick Ballard (418 yards, SEC-best 11 touchdowns) and QB Chris Relf (295 yards).
"They're a good rushing team," Gators coach Urban Meyer said. "Any time you get your quarterback involved in the run game like LSU did and like this team will, that's the plus-one issue that everybody deals with."
Meyer said he was unhappy with his team's performance against LSU QB Jordan Jefferson, who gained 42 yards and scored twice. Allowing 117.8 yards per game, Florida's run defense ranks eighth in the SEC.
To be successful against Relf, the Gators must confuse him by blitzing, stunting defensive linemen and loading the box, Meyer said.
Injury update: The odds of RB Jeff Demps (sprained foot) playing are "50/50," Meyer said. That is slightly lower than RB Mike Gillislee (bruised ankle bone), who Meyer said has been limited in practice all week. WR Deonte Thompson (concussion) and SS Matt Elam (concussion) practiced at full speed for the first time this week, Meyer said.
Tyler Jett, Times correspondent
UM: It's good to go on the road, coach says
CORAL GABLES —Heading into their first ACC Coastal Division game of the season against Duke, Miami coach Randy Shannon said he believes the road game comes at the right time for his team.
"We have been playing very well on the road," said Shannon, whose team lost at Ohio State but won at Pittsburgh and Clemson. "We are waiting on this opportunity."
After Saturday's 45-17 loss to Florida State, there has been a lot of negativity toward coaches and players. But Shannon insisted his team is not worried about the doubters.
"We are always worried about ourselves," Shannon said. "The only thing that matters is us getting better each week. Take an opportunity to play Duke, get better, win this game and then go focus on the next game."
Shannon said earlier this week it was tough for the team after the loss. Getting back on the field and practicing helped. Shannon said during Thursday's practice, the players were fast, furious and sharp.
The opponent: Miami has a 6-1 series lead against Duke, which hasn't won a bowl game since 1960. South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier was the last coach to lead the Blue Devils to consecutive winning seasons, in 1988-89. Recently, though, Duke has played well against Miami, losing 34-16, 49-31, 24-14 and 20-15.
"We've got to stay focused," Shannon said. "We are … excited with this opportunity to play."
Injury update: Backup QB A.J. Highsmith and second-leading rusher Lamar Miller are questionable. OL Joel Figuerora, DT Josh Holmes and WR Tommy Streeter are out. Highsmith has an injured hand/wrist. The other injuries haven't been disclosed.
South Florida Sun Sentinel