GAINESVILLE - Recent weeks have seen the return of a wide-open Florida offense featuring a vertical passing game. The question now: Can the Gators continue this trend against one of the Southeastern Conference's stingiest secondaries?
The LSU defensive backfield is allowing the opposition to complete only 48.3 percent of its passes, second in the SEC. The members of that unit have developed a reputation for using their physicality to gain an advantage.
Gators receivers have studied the secondary and some say they see more man-to-man coverage than previous opponents have played.
"I'm looking forward to it because when we watched the Georgia game, we saw that you can run by those corners," receiver Chad Jackson said. "So, we've got enough speed at the receiver position that we can run by those guys and score points."
The wild card in this matchup could be the health of LSU's All-SEC cornerback, Corey Webster, who has been held out of practice all week because of a sprained knee. Jackson, however, said he is not concerned about Webster's lack of practice time.
"We're preparing like he's going to play," he said.
INJURY UPDATE: Safety Cory Bailey (ankle) has resumed a full practice schedule and is expected to play against the Tigers. Tight end David Kenner wore a boot on his left ankle for the third time this week. Coach Ron Zook said Kenner is improving slowly, but he does not think the senior will be ready for Saturday's game.
- BRIAN SHAFFER, Times correspondentFSU: QB quandary
TALLAHASSEE - This much is known: The Seminoles will start quarterback Wyatt Sexton at Syracuse on Saturday. The name of his backup is still unclear.
"We really just don't know," coach Bobby Bowden said after practice Wednesday. "We thought today about nearly every possibility."
Those possibilities include Chris Rix or Drew Weatherford, despite high ankle sprains that have kept them out of practice, in an emergency situation.
"Chris is the one guy that could make all the checks and hand off or could even throw something out of the shotgun if he had to, but we're not wanting to do that," Bowden said. Rix has not practiced since going down on Sept. 25 against Clemson.
"Could Drew go in there and do that? Today, he didn't look like he'd be ready to play. Maybe he could do that."
Weatherford, a freshman from Land O'Lakes, hurt his ankle against North Carolina in his only college play. He practiced for the first time on Wednesday, but left early for treatment. Bowden was not as optimistic as he was early in the week about Weatherford's health.
"Drew is not like I was hoping he was," Bowden said. "Drew could probably go in there and hand the ball off and probably throw some, but we don't want that to happen."
That leaves freshman Xavier Lee and walk-on Tommy Keane as possible backups. Bowden would like to redshirt Lee, while Keane played one series late in the game against UNC but has never thrown a pass.
The Seminoles will take all five quarterbacks to Syracuse.
NO BREAKS: The Seminoles initially had one off week this season, but it was lost when Hurricane Frances pushed the opener at Miami back a week. Now the Seminoles are in the process of playing 11 consecutive weeks, culminating Nov. 20 against Florida.
Despite recent injuries, the lack of a midseason break is not something Bowden dwells on.
"It would be nice, but we don't have it," he said. "It's mighty hard to plan for. When you don't need a week off is maybe when you have it. When you do need it might be when you don't have it."
- ZACHARY SPAIN, Times correspondentUSF: Pitt game set
TAMPA - USF's game against Pittsburgh has been rescheduled for 7 p.m. Dec. 4.
The Sept. 6 season opener that was postponed by Hurricane Frances was scheduled to be televised by ESPN but there is no TV commitment for the new date.
"We realize it's important for fans of both programs to be able to plan their Dec. 4 weekend and we're happy to finalize the date," athletic director Doug Woolard said. "We join Pittsburgh in continued discussions with ESPN to keep the game televised as originally planned."
QB OUT: Freshman quarterback Louis Gachette returned home to Immokalee Wednesday because of a death in the family. He will return for practice next week.
"It's a family deal and it is real sad," coach Jim Leavitt said.
Coaches have been impressed with what they've seen from Gachette, though he most likely will redshirt and compete for the starting job in 2005.
He will be one of five scholarship quarterbacks on the team next season.
- THOMAS SIMONETTI, Times correspondentUM: 'Cane vs. 'Cane
CORAL GABLES - The Hurricanes took on each other in an extended practice in the rain Wednesday.
"This was us against us today, Miami vs. Miami," coach Larry Coker said. "We worked pretty hard and conditioned pretty hard. But this was what we needed at this time since we have a little time before we play Louisville."
Miami's next game is Oct. 14 against Louisville in the Orange Bowl.
"We will work on some Louisville things starting tomorrow," Coker said.
ROSTER CHANGE: Rashad Butler moved into the left tackle spot vacated by Eric Winston, who was lost for the season with a left knee injury against Georgia Tech. "I feel very confident in Rashad," Coker said. "He is smart, he is tough, and he cares."
Winston will have surgery today to reconstruct damaged ligaments. The 6-foot-7, 310-pounder was Miami's top lineman and considered by some to be a lock for a high spot in the 2005 NFL draft - assuming he decided to leave Miami a year early.
TOUCHY TOE: Safety Brandon Meriweather wore a protective boot on his right leg and didn't practice. Coker said the sophomore is suffering from turf toe and should play against Louisville.
- TIMES WIRES