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UF receiver Karim may have to sit out

Florida WR Nafis Karim may face a one-game suspension for academic reasons, wide receivers coach Dwayne Dixon said Wednesday.

Karim, the Gators' third-leading receiver with 20 catches for 226 yards and a touchdown, will find out today his status for Saturday's 12:30 p.m. against Vanderbilt.

"Nafis is out right now until we find out if he's going to make it academically for this game," Dixon said. "He knows he's got to handle whatever he has to do academically."

If Karim does not play, Dixon said, junior Travis McGriff will start alongside Jacquez Green and Jamie Richardson. Karim, a 5-11 junior, was suspended for the season opener for violating an unspecified team rule but since has started three games.

Karim had his breakout game against LSU, catching nine passes for 94 yards, but has just three catches since that 28-21 loss on Oct. 11.

"We're still waiting to see who are our leaders," Dixon said. "Right now we're still not sure. We figured we've got a guy who can do that in Nafis Karim."

INS AND OUTS: Offensive line coach Jimmy Ray Stephens said he likely will start the same five players who started the second half of Saturday's game against Georgia: RT Zach Piller, LT Mo Collins, C Wyley Ritch, RG Cheston Blackshear and LG Ryan Kalich.

Tampa's Pat Browning, who started at right tackle against the Bulldogs, will back up the often-injured Piller.

The only possible change against the Commodores, Stephens said, might be moving Kalich to center and Deac Story into the lineup at left guard.

"We're looking for a little more consistency in a one-on-one situation in there," Stephens said.

GETTING BETTER: LBs Mike Peterson (knee), Dwayne Thomas (shoulder) and Keith Kelsey (shoulder) returned to practice in green, non-contact jerseys. All are doubtful for Saturday, but linebackers coach Jim Collins said Thomas and Peterson could play.

Also in green were CB Tyrone Baker (ankle) and OG Corey Yarbrough (ankle). Baker should return this week. Stephens said Yarbrough will not play but could return Nov. 15 against South Carolina.

_ MARK LONG

That's capacity, not a typo

TAMPA _ The stadium at Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tenn., where South Florida will play Saturday afternoon, likely will be the smallest venue the Bulls ever will see.

Lindsey Donnell Stadium seats just 2,500. It is far smaller than the home stadium for Elon College, where USF played last month. That facility _ which had poor lighting and a small visitors' locker room and is home to a local high school team _ seats as many as 10,000.

Bulls coach Jim Leavitt promises that after next year his players won't be traveling to places like that if he can avoid it. But USF (3-5) had a little trouble scheduling opponents for its first two seasons and more or less had to take what it could get, he said. Having a team with "Florida" in the name scared some people off.

"(Some schools) thought we'd be better than we are," Leavitt said. "They didn't believe me."

The Bulls will play in at least one tiny facility next season. They are locked into a two-year home-and-home deal with Charleston Southern, the team they beat last week 24-6 in Tampa. The Bucs' home stadium seats about 3,000.

MORE HONORS: A day after receiver/returner Charlie Jackson was named national I-AA special-teams player of the week, teammate Roy Manns earned I-AA independents defensive player of the week honors.

Manns, a freshman strong safety, had two interceptions against Charleston Southern, including one for a 39-yard touchdown. He also had nine tackles.

Jackson, who had 204 return yards (including a 94-yard kickoff return for a TD), also was named I-AA independents special-teams player of the week in addition to the national award.

_ SHARON GINN

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