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UCF to test its streak against a 'special' RB

By SHARON GINN
Published October 7, 2005


If you think UCF might have momentum in its favor, meet DeAngelo Williams.

The senior Memphis running back, who the Golden Knights (2-2, 1-0 Conference USA) will have to contain on Saturday to extend their two-game winning streak, has rushed for 200-plus yards in three straight games. Hyped for the Heisman over the summer by the Memphis sports information department, Williams has lived up to the billing, averaging 6.9 yards a carry and 187.3 a game, best in Division I-A.

He rolled up 238 yards and scored the winning touchdown in the Tigers' upset 27-20 victory over Texas-El Paso last week.

"There are good running backs and there are special running backs," UCF coach George O'Leary said. "He is special."

Williams has even taken snaps at quarterback, after both of Memphis' top two quarterbacks sustained broken legs in the first three games. But he can't do everything, meaning the Tigers (2-2, 1-1) are vulnerable.

CLEAN START: In its 23-6 victory on Saturday, Florida International (1-3) had little trouble with Florida A&M (2-3) either before or during the heavy thunderstorm that struck in the second half of the Orange Blossom Classic.

After the Golden Panthers put up a 17-0 halftime lead, the bad weather moved in. "We had very high winds and rain," FIU coach Don Strock said. "There was lightning in the area. The ref was thinking about stopping the game. It was really, really hard to do anything. But we ran the ball very effectively."

That's mostly thanks to sophomore running back Ben West, a last-minute replacement for the injured Julian Reams, who rushed for 214 yards in his first start. FIU, which had not won a game since beating FAMU last November, is off this week.

QB EMERGENCY: FAMU also has the week off, and badly needs it. All three of the quarterbacks who have started for the Rattlers this year are injured.

Redshirt freshman Chris Owens, the only quarterback to play in all five games, left the FIU game with a sore hip flexor. Sophomore Albert Chester Jr. has a sprained shoulder that he aggravated after coming in for Owens. And oft-injured senior Josh Driscoll - who would be the starter if he were healthy, coach Rubin Carter said - has been out since pulling a groin muscle against Howard on Sept.17.

For now, that leaves sophomore walk-on Leon Camel, who came in late against FIU in his only action of the season, as the only healthy quarterback.

ROLLING: Meantime, FAMU rival Bethune-Cookman seems to have its quarterback issues settled. Though three ( Jimmie Russell, Lawrence McCloud, and Jarod Rucker) still are getting equal work with the first team in practice, Russell has earned the job outright.

In the past two games Russell has accounted for nine touchdowns (seven rushing, two passing), and been named the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference offensive player of the week twice. While the Wildcats barely beat perennial MEAC doormat Norfolk State (63-61 in 4OT) two weeks ago, they pounded Morgan State 44-26 on Saturday.

B-CC (4-1, 2-1 MEAC) is third in the conference and will face fourth-place Delaware State on Saturday.

PATIENCE: The Hurricanes haven't been exactly clicking on offense - as evidenced by two fumbles inside USF's 10-yard line on Saturday - but mild-mannered Miami coach Larry Coker sees potential. "I don't look at them and say, "Gosh, we just don't have it,"' he said.

He likes the way sophomore Kyle Wright has been holding up, despite being sacked 17 times in four games. Wright has plenty to learn, but Coker expects improvement will come quickly.

"I think (he) is a special player," Coker said. "I think he's going to be the best quarterback I've ever coached, in 35 years."

Information from the Tallahassee Democrat was used in this report.