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UM fumes over hit by Hokie

Miami will be without two defensive tackles against 18th-ranked Tennessee on Saturday, and the No. 6 Hurricanes blame one of the injuries on a "cheap shot" by Virginia Tech center Jake Grove.

Starter Orien Harris and backup Santonio Thomas will be sidelined after being hurt in the 31-7 loss to the Hokies Saturday.

Harris sprained the medial collateral ligament in his right knee and was placed in a cast from his ankle to his thigh. Thomas severely sprained his right ankle and was in a cast and on crutches Tuesday.

Coach Larry Coker was upset that Grove blocked Thomas below the knees, from behind, about 10 yards away from the play and after the defender had slowed.

Coker sent a tape of the play to Big East officials.


All healed up

TALLAHASSEE _ For perhaps the first time this season, more than three months after FSU's first game, coach Bobby Bowden reported that his team has a clean bill of health.

"We had 100 percent attendance (Tuesday)," Bowden said. "First time it's been that way in a while."

Linebacker Kendyll Pope practiced fully with a brace on his sprained right knee, even spending time with the first-team defense in anticipation of playing Saturday against Clemson.

"I think I had a pretty good practice for the first day back," said Pope, who missed games with Duke, Wake Forest and Notre Dame. "It's still kind of sore, but it's one of those things where I just have to go out and play football and not think about my knee."

AWARD WATCH: Junior Xavier Beitia, the former Jesuit High star, was one of 20 semifinalists for the Groza Award as the nation's top placekicker. He has hit 14 of 17 field goals (82.4 percent) and 37 of 38 PATs (97 percent).


Minds on game

TAMPA _ While seemingly everyone else was focused on the big news (South Florida joining the Big East in 2005), the team got down to business: preparing for Saturday's game at East Carolina.

"I really hadn't heard anything about (the Big East)," said linebacker Stephen Nicholas, who chose USF over Syracuse coming out of high school. "I'm just concentrating on East Carolina."

USF is a 10{-point favorite over ECU. The Pirates (1-8, 1-4 Conference USA) are coming off a 41-24 loss at scorching-hot Memphis.

"They're playing much better," USF coach Jim Leavitt said.

HEADS OR TAILS: Leavitt said it might not be until the coin toss that he chooses Ronnie Banks or Pat Julmiste at quarterback. Julmiste relieved Banks in USF's win Friday over Cincinnati.


Leach on short list

GAINESVILLE _ After defeating Georgia with a field goal with 33 seconds left and being named Southeastern Conference Special Teams Player of the Week, the accolades keep on coming for Florida's Matt Leach.

The junior has been named a semifinalist for the Groza Award. The list will be pared to three Nov. 17 and the winner announced Dec. 9 at a banquet in West Palm Beach.