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PLANCHER FILLS HOLE IN THINNED BACKFIELD

The senior compensates for the loss of two key backs with a career-best performance.

The trust USF's coaching staff has in senior running back Mo Plancher paid off Saturday night.

With the absence of juniors Mike Ford and Jamar Taylor, Plancher made his fourth career start and delivered a career-best 78-yard, two-touchdown performance in the Bulls' season-opening 40-7 victory over Wofford.

"It's always a boost of confidence early in the season, especially to gain the trust of my coaches and my teammates," Plancher said. "This gives me a lot of confidence."

Without Ford, who was suspended for the first two games, and Taylor, who suffered a knee injury in fall camp, running backs coach Carl Franks said Plancher gives the team consistency in the backfield.

"Mo is a guy we have a lot of confidence in," he said. "He's been around a long time. He's a guy that can coach up some of the younger guys. ... I trust him. I just trust him to take care of the ball, to go to class."

Plancher, who had a team-high six touchdowns last year, is making a habit of fast starts. Last season he had two touchdowns against UT Martin in USF's 56-7 season-opening victory.

He got to work quickly Saturday, giving the Bulls a 7-0 lead on their opening series with a 3-yard rushing score. He had 21 yards on four carries in the drive.

The Naples native got his second touchdown on a 9-yard run that put USF up 23-7 with 10:47 left in the third quarter.

It hasn't been easy for Plancher, however, who missed all of 2006 with an ACL injury suffered in the season opener against McNeese State. In 2007, he had 10 carries for 17 yards.

And in March 2008, Plancher's cousin Ereck, a UCF football player, collapsed and died in a workout. A tribute was held in his honor when the Bulls faced UCF that September, a game in which Plancher had 55 yards rushing and one touchdown.

"We talked a lot before the Central Florida game last year, just to see how proud he was to go out there and wear Plancher on his back," Franks said. "It's been a huge motivating factor for him, I'm sure."

Plancher said Saturday's performance gives him confidence to move forward in his career.

"Coach Franks always says God won't give you anything you can't handle, and I think that's a model that really works," he said.

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