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USF GETS JUST ENOUGH RELIEF FROM ELEMENTS

After being forced indoors to the Sun Dome for rain for two days, the USF Bulls got in a regular practice Wednesday despite more rain in the afternoon.

"We went a good 21/2 hours and it was very physical," coach Jim Leavitt said. "I thought the guys did a really good job today."

A few key players recovering from injuries are making progress - starting CB Quenton Washington (ankle) practiced "a little bit," Leavitt said, and WR/holder Evan Landi (shoulder) dressed and "could play."

WR Jessie Hester, recovered from an ankle injury that sidelined him from the first two games, is likely out after pulling a hamstring in practice. TE Kenneth Luberice, who also missed the first two games, is "close," Leavitt said. S Jerrell Young, who broke his right arm in the opener, dressed in full pads and a helmet, but Leavitt said he is "probably" out this week.

LOCAL TIES: Charleston Southern has 42 Floridians on its roster, and the Buccaneers went after a few USF players. WR A.J. Love took a recruiting visit to CSU but said USF was always his No. 1 option, and CSU was one of three schools (with The Citadel and Southern Illinois) to offer a scholarship to Newsome's Chaz Hine, who instead walked on at USF. He's now on scholarship and the Bulls' starting left guard.

LIGHTER LOAD: Senior Delbert Alvarado has handled field goals, punts and kickoffs in the first two games, but after two missed field goals Saturday, Leavitt said he might have walk-on Eric Schwartz handle kickoffs to lessen the load on Alvarado.

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UF: Respect for Berry

GAINESVILLE - Florida CB Joe Haden thinks the best defensive player on the field Saturday might not be wearing Gators' gear.

The junior starter said Wednesday that he thinks Tennessee S Eric Berry is the best defender in the country. Haden and teammate Major Wright spoke to Berry this week about how well the Volunteers junior was playing.

Haden said Wright met Berry when they participated in the 2007 Army All-American Game, and Haden and Wright met up with Berry one time when all three were in Miami.

Haden didn't back off his comments when asked about Berry eclipsing his own teammates, including LB Brandon Spikes, a 2008 finalist for the Bronko Nagurski award, which honors the country's top defensive player.

"I love Spikes to death but I love Eric's game," Haden said. "When we watch him on film when we're about to play other SEC teams that he's played, I love watching him."

INJURY UPDATE: Coach Urban Meyer said he expects WR Deonte Thompson (hamstring) to play against Tennessee. DT Lawrence Marsh (ankle) practiced, and though limited, the junior should be ready for his season debut. Meyer said. LB Jelani Jenkins (ankle) will be limited to special-teams duty.

Phil Kegler, Times correspondent

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FSU: Hall poses threat

TALLAHASSEE - In preparing for its game Saturday at No.7 BYU, the Seminoles' focus has been on defense - particularly how to limit the effectiveness of Cougars junior QB Max Hall.

BYU runs an offense that features elements of the spread and the West Coast offense, which is predicated on quick, short passes. Those types of offenses have given FSU problems in recent seasons.

"We definitely need to perform at a very high level, make a lot of plays just to let people know that we're not the defense that we've been showing the last week against Miami and Jacksonville State," FSU senior CB Patrick Robinson said. "And I think it's a statement game where we've got to show up on offense and defense, as a team."

BYU has been especially efficient on third down this season, converting 14 of 26. A key for FSU will be to establish the pass rush but that will be difficult because of the Cougars' offensive line, which averages 317 pounds per player - significantly bigger than the FSU defensive line.

BYU's line also uses a different alignment than the Seminoles are accustomed to. They use what junior DE Markus White calls "wider gaps." White said, "We're going to have to compensate for that."

Sophomore WR Bert Reed said he thought the FSU offense should use more bubble screens, which are plays he had success with a season ago. Such plays this week could allow FSU's faster players an advantage against a less athletic BYU defense.

WAY UP HIGH: FSU players said there's little they can do about the effects of high altitude this weekend - Provo, Utah, has an elevation of about 4,500 feet - but the team will have oxygen tanks on hand.

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UCF: Line takes blame

ORLANDO - Senior C Ian Bustillo says the running backs can't be blamed for the Knights' tepid rushing attack.

UCF is averaging 70 yards per game, and starting sophomore RB Brynn Harvey is averaging 3.3 yards per carry.

"I think we have to block a lot better for Brynn," Bustillo said. "Brynn's a very good running back. ... The running game definitely has to pick up. That's on us for opening holes. We definitely have to watch film, see how they play the run. The game plan's there, we just have to execute it."

NOTES: Transfer QB Brett Hodges will make his first career start for the Knights on Saturday against Buffalo. Hodges was 1-1 in starts for Wake Forest. ... True freshman CB Josh Robinson made his first start Sept. 12 at Southern Mississippi, leading UCF with 10 tackles. He also broke up a pass. Coach George O'Leary said he was pleased with Robinson's progress.

Information from the Orlando Sentinel was used in this report. For news on other sports from our instate colleges, go to tampabay.com/sports and click on More Sports.

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