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IT STARTS UP FRONT FOR UF DEFENSE

Florida's success against Georgia on Saturday may depend heavily on the Gators' defensive front seven.

"The front seven has got to play tremendous," coach Urban Meyer said. "If it's a downhill game, and we're not tackling, it's going to be tough. If you get in a shootout with this outfit, it's not a good deal."

Junior LB Brandon Spikes said the magnitude of this game can be viewed by the intensity in practice this week.

"We haven't played our best game yet," Spikes said. "We're trying to practice better. You can see guys in practice flying around."

JENKINS SITS OUT: Freshman CB Janoris Jenkins (bruised shin) did not practice on Tuesday, but is probable for today's practice. Senior OL Jim Tartt practiced, and could play on Saturday. He has played in just two games this season because of a recurring shoulder injury.

ON THE REBOUND: The Gators have outscored opponents 152-33 since a Sept. 27 loss to unranked Ole Miss, and Meyer said much of that can be attributed to the increased maturity of his team.

"You can see the maturity," Meyer said. "The '08's are playing well - Will Hill, Janoris Jenkins, Jeff Demps - they are growing up a little bit. "There's discipline and we're finding a little bit of leadership."

USF: Dile practices

TAMPA - After a rash of injuries at Louisville, USF had some good news at Tuesday's practice with the return of senior OT Marc Dile.

Dile, who missed two practices with a boot on his foot, "had a good practice,'' offensive coordinator Greg Gregory said. "I think he'll be ready to play."

Senior LB Brouce Mompremier was held out of a third consecutive practice after suffering a blow to the back of the head against Louisville.

Sophomore RB Mike Ford had a limp and did not participate in some stretching drills. Running backs coach Carl Franks did not elaborate on Ford's status, saying he was "a little tender."

Sophomore TE Trent Pupello, who left Saturday's game with a concussion, was participating in position drills Tuesday.

FSU: Ponder positive

TALLAHASSEE - Seminoles QB Christian Ponder knows he will face a test Saturday at Georgia Tech, which is No. 12 nationally in total defense, No. 7 in scoring defense and No. 15 in passing defense.

But if there is an area of opportunity, Ponder said it is the Yellow Jackets' secondary. Virginia was 29-of-39 passing for 270 yards in a victory over Georgia Tech on Saturday.

"They've given up a few long passes," Ponder said. "I think that we're going to be able to attack that, especially with the (receivers) that we have."

That would be something new. Ponder has passed for more than 200 yards once in the past five games.

UCF: QB starter named

ORLANDO - Rob Calabrese will start at QB against East Carolina, but UCF coach George O'Leary said he will continue to give Michael Greco chances to unseat Calabrese. O'Leary also said Brynn Harvey will start at running back after his strong game against Tulsa.

Times correspondents Joe Rienzi and Ira Schoffel contributed to this report, which used information from the Orlando Sentinel.

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