TAMPA — Approaching the halfway point of the season, USF has the Big East's top rushing offense, averaging 223 yards per game. The Bulls will face a stout challenge to that Saturday at Connecticut, which has the nation's No. 6 run defense.
The Huskies (2-4, 0-1) allow 74.7 yards per game and 2.5 yards per carry, a test for USF's running backs Darrell Scott and Demetris Murray.
"When you look at the film, the overriding thing would be they're physical," USF coach Skip Holtz said. " … They have one of the best defensive linemen, (Kendall Reyes). … They're doing some things schemewise to give you problems running the ball."
The run defense in the past two games is a bit misleading, as opponents have had great success throwing the ball with the Huskies missing top CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson (knee), who is out Saturday. So Western Michigan was held to minus-11 rushing yards on 22 attempts but passed for 479 yards; West Virginia had 72 yards on 29 carries but passed for 469. In the previous three games, UConn allowed an average of 115 yards per game; USF allows 127.
Reyes leads the Big East with 10 tackles for loss and is tied for second with four sacks.
FSU: Injury concerns
TALLAHASSEE — Florida State RB Chris Thompson and OT Andrew Datko, both starters, appear to have long-term ailments that might keep them out for the rest of the season.
Thompson's injuries could lead to more playing time for freshman James Wilder Jr., a former Plant standout. But Ty Jones of Middleton, Devonta Freeman and Jermaine Thomas were the only players listed on Monday's tentative depth chart for Saturday's game at Duke.
"I doubt he'll play the rest of the year," coach Jimbo Fisher said of Datko, who has had nagging shoulder injuries all season and hasn't properly healed. Fisher acknowledged that Datko hid his injuries to play through the pain. He is out this week.
Thompson broke two vertebrae in his back in Saturday's loss at Wake Forest. He will not have surgery but could wear a brace for as long as three months, Fisher said.
Datko would be replaced by 17-year-old freshman Bobby Hart. With Rashad Greene a starter at receiver and Nick O'Leary at tight end, the Seminoles could start three true freshmen Saturday.
This and that: FSU players shut down their Twitter feeds. "A lot of it is just people having a chance to voice their opinions to us — directly to us — and obviously right now, a lot of it is kind of negative," said QB EJ Manuel, who will start Saturday. … WR Jarred "Scooter" Haggins dressed for the first time after breaking his right hand three weeks ago.
Coley Harvey, Orlando Sentinel
UCF: Work on offense
ORLANDO — UCF coach George O'Leary said the offense needs to keep improving for Saturday's game at SMU.
"Just really consistency," he said of what the offense needs. "I think we're doing a lot of good things, but we're not doing enough when it counts. Like putting the ball in the end zone."
O'Leary said he is frustrated the Knights struggled in the red zone during last week's win over Marshall, turning the ball over and botching a field-goal snap.
Iliana Limon, Orlando Sentinel