GAINESVILLE — Florida will have to deal with several unusual factors when it plays Saturday at Vanderbilt.
The game will kick off at 11 a.m. Central, and temperatures are expected to be in the high 20s. Coach Urban Meyer said he's concerned on two fronts: the early kickoff and the fact that Vanderbilt traditionally always plays the Gators tough.
"It is a concern because you know that the team you are playing is one of those teams that is looking to get you, and they have the talent to get you," he said. " … I think the last time (UF played early) was Ole Miss, down at Ole Miss, and that was bizarre. You're getting up at 6 a.m. and the whole deal. There's nothing we can do about it. We just have to go and play our tails off."
The Gators are eight games into the season but have yet to play in temperatures below 70.
"It's something that we have to adjust to," senior LB Brandon Hicks said. "We've been in Florida weather for so long, and we haven't really had any cooler games yet. I just remember in past years it was really cold, and that got to me. At least we know we'll have the sunlight. In a night game, it would be really cold."
Still no Patchan: OL Matt Patchan will miss the game, still recovering from a fractured wrist. Patchan's wrist is healed, but he is trying to regain his strength and stamina, Meyer said. He was injured during preseason camp and has not played this season. WR Andre Debose is questionable this week.
Antonya English, Times staff writer
UM: Morris gets ready
CORAL GABLES — There are three names on the latest version of Miami's quarterback depth chart, and Stephen Morris isn't among them.
Merely an oversight.
Barring drastic changes, Morris will replace Jacory Harris as the starter Saturday against visiting Maryland. Morris took first-team snaps at Tuesday's practice; Harris (concussion) wasn't even on the field.
"Stephen just has to manage the offense," coach Randy Shannon said. "Do the things that's asked of him and make sure we execute those things. … I have all the confidence in Stephen Morris running the plays we have on offense, and I think the players have a lot of confidence in him also."
Doctors are evaluating Harris, and there's no timetable for his return. Shannon would only say he would "probably not" be available this week. Harris, injured in the second quarter of Saturday's 24-19 loss to Virginia, has been around his teammates for meetings and was in the film room Tuesday.
"There's going to be a lot of weight on his shoulders, but we're going to have to rely on our defense, really," Shannon said of Morris. "Our defense is going to have to play extremely well this week … for the young man to be successful."
CB Ryan Hill said the defense isn't concerned about how Morris will handle the spotlight.
"I think we're going to ride his shoulders," Hill said.
Morris is a Miami native who threw for 3,536 yards and 41 touchdowns in his final two seasons at Monsignor Pace High, perennially one of the better programs in Miami-Dade County. He enrolled in January, and most around the program simply figured he wouldn't be a viable candidate for playing time until perhaps 2012.
But when Alonzo Highsmith got hurt about a month ago, Morris started getting a bit more work with first- and second-team units, just in case.
FSU: Career-high calm
TALLAHASSEE — LB Kendall Smith had a career-high 15 tackles Thursday in Florida State's 28-24 loss at North Carolina State, but he said he didn't even realize it until he was told three days afterward.
Smith said this week that he lost track of his tackle count and that he was "focusing on the game and then trying to get us the W instead of the L."
The Seminoles defense held its own in the first half but looked lost in the second half against Wolfpack QB Russell Wilson.
"N.C. State, they really utilized their quarterback and his running ability," Smith said. "But I feel like they spread us out and let him do his thing. And I can honestly say we (were) outcoached on that one."
WELCOME BACK: North Carolina's game this weekend at Florida State will be the Tar Heels' first at Doak Campbell Stadium since 2004.
UCF: New C adjusting
ORLANDO — UCF junior C Zac Norris is logging a lot of extra time studying game footage and working on his snaps.
Norris could start Friday at Houston in place of sophomore Jordan Rae (sprained ankle).
Freshman QB Jeff Godfrey said Norris, a walk-on, "did a great job" against East Carolina with the win still in doubt.
Godfrey and Norris spent a lot of time together during the summer and preseason camp, snapping the ball while they were on the second team.
"We really mesh well together with the snaps," Norris said. " … To already have the chemistry instead of having to build it on a short week is a big advantage."
NUMBER CRUNCHING: In eight games, Godfrey owns a 137.77 passer efficiency rating, highest in the nation among true freshmen. Houston freshman David Piland is at 137.18.