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Jacquian Williams, the Riverview High graduate who came to USF as a touted junior college linebacker, is working at defensive end.

"He's a guy who has a lot of speed on the edge," defensive coordinator Joe Tresey said of the 6-foot-4, 222-pound junior.

Williams played end during the final drive of Saturday's 40-7 win against Wofford, but the Bulls already have considerable depth there. He also had three special teams tackles.

ON THE RISE: Coach Jim Leavitt said his team's overall youth puts it in a good position to improve throughout the season, something it hasn't done in the past two seasons after strong starts.

"It's going to be the key to this season," he said. "If our guys do get better as we climb through the season, then we have a real shot at doing some special things; more so this group than any group."

ON THE MEND: Of USF's injured players, Leavitt said TE Kenneth Luberice "probably will not be ready." But he expected TE Andreas Shields to travel to Western Kentucky. Same for senior WR Jessie Hester, who has been limited by an ankle injury and on Saturday went without a catch for the first time in 22 games.

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FSU: Back to practice with a short week

TALLAHASSEE - After taking Tuesday off, Florida State practiced for the first time since Monday's 38-34 loss to Miami. And the attention had to shift quickly to Saturday's game against Jacksonville State.

"They ought to institute a rule where you can't play on a Saturday-Thursday or a Monday-Saturday," offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher said. "That's tough on these kids. They're banged and bruised."

But neither Fisher nor defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews will allow players to use aches and pains as an excuse regardless of prep time.

"That's the hand we're dealt with," Andrews said. "We've just got to go and get ready to play another game and find out someway where we can be better than we were last week."

Up next: The Seminoles have just three days to prepare for the Gamecocks, who are No. 21 in the I-AA coaches' poll and feature an offense led by former LSU QBRyan Perrilloux that mixes the spread and option.

Correcting mistakes from the Miami loss while preparing for an offense that requires a lot of assignments won't be easy, Andrews said. "Mostly it was stuff where you've got to get lined up and go play football," he said of the miscues. "(The short week) puts you in a bind. It's a whole different type of offense than we played (Monday). You've got to find a way to do it."

Miscellaneous: Fisher said sophomore WR Jarmon Fortson, who failed to catch what would have been the winning TD against Miami, has handled his disappointment well and he has not noticed a letdown in him. ... Freshman Lonnie Pryor has moved from running back to fullback.... Andrews said freshman Greg Reid's playing time will increase as he gets more comfortable playing cornerback.

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UF: Area standout's 'dream comes true'

GAINESVILLE - St. Petersburg native Jon Halapio got his first taste of The Swamp on Saturday, and the Florida offensive lineman called it a "dream come true."

"I was speechless when (they) told me to go into the game," Halapio said.

The freshman from St. Petersburg Catholic struggled early during preseason two-a-days as he adjusted to the college game, but has garnered praise from coach Urban Meyer over the past week. Halapio said the biggest difference from high school is the size and speed of his opponents.

"Back in high school, everybody was so small. It was easy for me," the 6-foot-4, 300-pounder said. "Coming up here, you're going up against someone the same size or bigger."

How much playing time Halapio gets the rest of the season remains to be seen. He's not listed on the two-deep depth chart. No matter what happens, he won't forget his first time running out of the tunnel.

"I had goose bumps," he said. "I was so worried I might trip and fall in front of everybody."

No bugs: The Gators haven't had a swine flu outbreak, but the staff is being cautious. LB Brandon Hicks sat out practice because of dehydration. And OL Nick Alajajian has lost about 10 pounds.

"I'm scared to death," Meyer said.

Injuries: Defensive coordinator Charlie Strong said DE Jermaine Cunningham, who sat out last week with a "twisted ankle," is probable for Saturday. ... LB Brendan Beal (neck) is expected to miss a few more weeks.

Quotable: "You'll get benched if you don't go hard, but you won't get benched if you get a penalty." - Meyer about committing penalties

Phil Kegler, Times correspondent, Orlando Sentinel

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UCF: Sophomore QB has staff's confidence

ORLANDO - UCF offensive coordinator Charlie Taaffe said he has confidence in QB Rob Calabrese, who will remain the starter for Saturday's Conference USA opener at Southern Miss.

Calabrese was 3-of-7 for 28 yards during Saturday's 28-24 win over I-AA Samford.

"If I didn't see the potential he has on the practice field, then you might consider another direction," Taaffe said of the sophomore. "But Rob can do it. He can play. He just has to take that next step, which is to transfer it to the game field. So he's still young and early in his career, and the only way he's going to get better is playing."

Taaffe, however, said senior Brett Hodges will get playing time. Taaffe praised Hodges, 10-of-17 for 129 yards with an interception and touchdown, for his poise against Samford.

"His decision-making was very good," Taaffe said. "And he made a lot clutch throws."

Orlando Sentinel

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Up next

Florida: vs. Troy, 12:20 Saturday, Gainesville. TV: Ch. 38

USF: at Western Kentucky, 7:30 Saturday. TV: BHSN

FSU: vs. Jacksonville State, 6 Saturday, Tallahassee

UCF: at Southern Miss, 7 Saturday

Miami: vs. Georgia Tech, 7:30 Sept. 17, Miami. TV: ESPN