TAMPA - Central Florida comes to face USF at Raymond James Stadium on Saturday, hoping to avoid its 17th loss in a row, but that's not to say the Knights aren't confident this week.
"I'm going to go ahead and say it, this week is the week," defensive end Chris Welsh told Florida Today . "I feel pretty confident in our team, our coaches, and we're all working hard. Those guys better watch out, because we're coming full steam."
USF coach Jim Leavitt said Monday that he'd only met UCF coach George O'Leary once, when Leavitt was a Kansas State assistant coach driving through Atlanta and stopped briefly in Georgia Tech's football office after O'Leary helped the team win a share of the national championship in 1990.
"George probably doesn't remember," Leavitt said. "I probably spent five minutes with him, that was all."
O'Leary said he didn't remember the encounter.
"I don't remember, but we had a bunch of kids, a bunch of coaches come by that year," the 59-year-old O'Leary said of his 48-year-old counterpart.
O'Leary complimented Leavitt and his program, but said he doesn't think much more of the Big East that USF now calls home than he does his team's new league, Conference USA.
"There's not much difference between the two," O'Leary said. "They can say they're in the BCS, but I don't know how long it'll stay a BCS conference. I think the whole geography is going to change."
UCF sold out its initial allotment of 3,400 tickets for Saturday's game, and O'Leary has high expectations for the crowd in Tampa.
"If it's not in the (50,000s), I'd be surprised," he said. "I think we can bring at least 20,000 of our fans. It's like a home game. I'd think our fans will drive over."
UCF has averaged 19,952 fans in O'Leary's five home games.
THIS AND THAT: Trying to prevent injuries in practice, Leavitt went through his players as they stretched before Wednesday's drills, patting them down like an airport security guard. He found 16 players weren't wearing the hip, tail and thigh pads the team requires for full-contact drills and sent those players to get the proper protection. ... Sophomore Courtney Denson was back taking reps at quarterback Wednesday, though he could play at receiver Saturday.
- GREG AUMAN, Times staff writer
FSU: Weatherford's game
TALLAHASSEE - After a solid performance against the Citadel in mop-up duty, Xavier Lee leads the ACC in passing efficiency.
That same elevation won't happen on the FSU depth chart in Saturday's game at Boston College ... or at least it won't be planned, with Drew Weatherford apparently playing the whole game unless he struggles.
"(Lee's) job is to be ready to go when called," coach Bobby Bowden said. "We won't say, "The half, you go in, the quarter, you go in, the third play you go in.' You just have to be ready all the time."
Lee completed 5-of-8 for 143 yards, with a touchdown pass and a touchdown run.
"I'm just prepared for whenever I come in," said Lee, claiming he doesn't need warmup throws before entering. "I can just go in there and sling it. That's what I do (at practice)."
John Frady will fill in at center for David Castillo again and will take on a big task with Boston College's interior defensive line.
"One of their tackles is listed at 337, another guy they rotate in in running situations is 365 pounds," Frady said. "It's just a matter of getting a hat on a hat."
-D.C. REEVES, Times correspondent
UF: wooing recruits
GAINESVILLE - Not only will Saturday's game against Tennessee have a national audience and SEC implications, but UF will also be hosting some top recruits this weekend.
"I think for any program in a game of this caliber where the entire country is watching, they want to see the style," coach Urban Meyer said. "They want to see the atmosphere, and I know it's going to be electric, so this is a big part of recruiting."
Meyer can't release names because of NCAA regulations, but he's confident a talented group will observe his first SEC game.
"There are going to be some of the best players in the country," Meyer said.
STAYING HEALTHY: Meyer said his team has been fortunate on the injury front. Tight end Markell Thompson has been out with a broken ankle and defensive tackle Javier Estopinan has a pulled muscle in his foot.
GATOR WALK CHANGED AGAIN: Meyer's new tradition of the Gator Walk is getting off to an inconsistent start. The Gator Walk started before UF's game against Wyoming but was changed before the Louisiana Tech game to accommodate more fans.
Now it's reverting to the original plan: players get off at the corner of Gale Lemerand Drive and University Avenue, then walk down into Gate 8 and across the field into the locker room.
- IAN FISHER, Times correspondent
UM: Moss up in air
CORAL GABLES - Running back Tyrone Moss had 102 yards in the opening loss to Florida State, but only 8 yards after halftime. And cramping apparently wasn't his lone problem.
Moss' status for Saturday's Clemson game is questionable because of a bruised lower leg. It's unclear when he was injured, but Miami is preparing to use perhaps a combination of Quadtrine Hill , Charlie Jones and Derron Thomas at tailback.