TAMPA — One of the nation's Heisman Trophy dark horses trots into Raymond James Stadium as the reigning American Athletic Conference offensive player of the week.
East Carolina senior QB Shane "Cap'n" Carden earned the honor after his third consecutive 400-yard passing effort (and four first-half TDs) in Saturday's 45-24 win against SMU. Carden and Co. will bring yet another spread-style attack to RayJay, this one averaging 395.6 passing yards (fourth nationally), 581.4 total yards (fourth) and 43.6 points (ninth).
Against its three previous pure-spread opponents, the Bulls surrendered an average of 283 passing yards, 453.3 total yards and 32.3 points. Their best effort so far against a spread: allowing 317 total yards and 17 points in a 24-17 loss to Maryland (one Terrapins TD came on a blocked punt return).
"We did well at running to the football and gang tackling (against the Terps)," Bulls coach Willie Taggart said. "We have to do a great job of getting off of blocks and running to the football and not asking one guy to make the tackle. … And being able to line up and get ready, especially for uptempo teams like East Carolina."
HIGH NOON, THE SEQUEL: The league announced Monday USF's Oct. 18 game at Tulsa will kick off at noon (11 a.m. Central), marking the second time in three games the Bulls have a breakfast-hour local start. The contest will be broadcast on ESPNU or ESPNNews.
FSU: Starting trio hurt
TALLAHASSEE — Top-ranked Florida State could be missing three starters when the Seminoles play at Syracuse on Saturday.
Coach Jimbo Fisher announced Monday that C Austin Barron is out with an arm injury and will be replaced by redshirt freshman Ryan Hoefeld. Leading receiver Rashad Greene suffered a concussion in Saturday's 43-3 win against Wake Forest and has not been cleared to return. RB Karlos Williams injured his ankle during the game and is in a walking boot.
Redshirt sophomore Mario Pender would replace Williams if he is unable to play, and freshman Dalvin Cook would be the primary backup. Pender and Cook have run for a combined 382 yards and five touchdowns.
"If I had to give a percentage, I would say yes" Williams will miss the game, Fisher said. "But it's how guys heal and where they're at."
Sophomore Jesus "Bobo" Wilson could start in place of Greene, but freshman Travis Rudolph is also a candidate. Greene is four receptions from setting the school record for career catches.
The Seminoles could also be a play away from an emergency situation at quarterback. Backup Sean Maguire is out after injuring his hand against Wake Forest. Fisher said Jameis Winston's backup would be either redshirt freshman John Franklin or walk-on redshirt freshman Troy Cook.
Neither has ever thrown a collegiate pass and Franklin has spent much of the season working as a receiver.
UCF: QB not settled
ORLANDO — The quarterback saga is not quite over for UCF.
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Justin Holman won the starting role from redshirt freshman Pete DiNovo after his sizzling second-half performance put the Knights in position to beat Penn State in Ireland on Aug. 30. But after a few streaky performances, coach George O'Leary said Nick Patti could see game action if things don't pick up.
Holman completed 6 of 18 passes for 101 yards and two touchdowns in UCF's 17-12 win against Houston on Thursday.
"He's good," O'Leary said of Patti on Monday. "If we're struggling at all at quarterback, he's gonna see action. We just gotta get things going offensively. We have too many good players at certain positions that need to get the ball in their hands, and we gotta get it to them quickly and do the things that we're supposed to do."
UM: Veterans step up
MIAMI — Many of the issues that plagued Miami during its late-season swoon a year ago have reappeared.
The defense is struggling, especially against the run. The offense is having trouble converting on critical third-down situations. Time of possession remains a problem, and outside criticism of Miami coach Al Golden and his defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio continues getting louder.
But some of the veteran players, including RB Duke Johnson and LB Denzel Perryman, say they're determined to make sure Miami doesn't lose its way. They say there's too much still at stake, even as Miami begins preparing for a nonconference game Saturday against Cincinnati.
"Yeah, we're 3-3 right now, but I still think we still have a lot we can accomplish. There's still things out there that we can reach," said Johnson, Miami's leading rusher with 625 yards and five touchdowns. "Just at least get us back to our winning ways, get us to the Coastal (Division) championship. There's still things out there that we can reach. … I wouldn't say that our season is over."
Added Perryman, "There's disappointment with the guys, but I'm going to talk to the team today and tomorrow, see where their minds are at and stuff like that so we can turn this thing around."
To help make that happen, Johnson and Perryman said they plan to lead by example, especially in practice and meeting rooms. And they're hoping to keep some of their younger, more impressionable teammates from getting bogged down by the negativity, especially on social media.
"I could probably say my freshman year, my sophomore year, I used to get caught up in things people used to say and it used to kind of mess with me mentally, so I pretty much got rid of my social media," Perryman said. "Coach Golden tells us a lot, 'ignore the noise,' and that's one of the things we ignore — the social media stuff."