GAINESVILLE - Although Reggie Nelson has moved to free safety during the bye week, coach Urban Meyer hasn't decided on a starter against Georgia.
Meyer said Nelson and Kyle Jackson will be needed.
But Nelson is happy that he has moved back to safety after experimenting at cornerback.
"I like it way better," Nelson said. "You get to see the whole field and you get angles to go hit."
Nelson knows how much larger his role could be if he does end up receiving the majority of the plays.
"It's a big-time game for me," he said. "I have to step it up to help my team out. The way I look at it, I have a big part in helping the team out in winning."
Strong safety Jarvis Herring realizes Nelson is a playmaker, but he said he wasn't necessarily more comfortable with Nelson than with Jackson.
"It's going to be a learning experience," Herring said. "It's part of my job to make sure he's in the best position possible."
When Nelson is at safety in nickel situations, Reggie Lewis will take over as the nickel back.
NO EARLY PEAKS: Meyer said Thursday he has bigger concerns than the Gators peaking early or late during the week of a rivalry game.
"I think when you're an established team, a mature team, those are the kinds of issues that you worry about. Right now, we're not.
"We're not in that position right now. We're in a position where we're trying to execute on offense and create some depth on defense and get some guys healthy, so peaking early and those types of things - I don't think this is that kind of team yet."
INJURIES: Starting linebacker Brandon Siler (ankle) should be able to play Saturday, Meyer said. Defensive end Ray McDonald (knee) will also likely play, but in a limited role.
- IAN FISHER, Times correspondent
FSU: Castillo honored for academics
TALLAHASSEE - Senior center David Castillo was named a finalist for the Draddy Trophy, the "academic Heisman," and will receive an $18,000 post-graduate scholarship. He received the news in a Federal Express package Monday.
"I was expecting my new cell phone to come and I'm like, "This is a little too thin for a cell phone,' " he said.
He hopes to use that money for medical school.
"I really want to go here," he said. "I love Tallahassee and I love Florida State."
Even with Hurricane Wilma knocking out the power at his mother's house in Palm Beach, he told her the news Monday. He also immediately drove to campus to tell the academic advisers and thank them.
"It's just as much an accomplishment for them as it is for me," he said.
Castillo and the other 15 finalists will be honored at a dinner Dec. 6 at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York. FSU has had six other National Football Foundation post-graduate scholarship winners: Ken Alexander, Derrick Brooks, Danny Kanell, Daryl Bush, Chris Weinke and Chris Hope.
READY AND WAITING: Sophomore J.R. Bryant is expected to make his first start at cornerback on Saturday opposite redshirt freshman Tony Carter, moving ahead of senior Gerard Ross.
"I'm ready and eager to play," he said.
Defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews said Bryant has shown more aggressiveness and confidence the past few weeks.
"He's starting to make a push and right now he's one of our top two corners," Andrews said.
- BRIAN LANDMAN, Times staff writer
USF: Fight to stay sharp
TAMPA - The Bulls closed their second straight bye week and have the next three days off before beginning regular game-week preparations Monday for a Nov. 5 return at Rutgers.
"We just tried to stay as sharp as we could," said coach Jim Leavitt, whose scheduled game with West Virginia last week was postponed to Dec. 3 by Hurricane Wilma. "I think the guys did as good as they could, considering."
USF (3-3) will close the season with a stretch of five Big East games in five weeks, needing to win three to become eligible for its first bowl appearance. The Bulls already have started specific preparations for Rutgers, and Leavitt said the extra time between games hasn't significantly affected his team either way.
"I don't think of it as a positive or a negative," Leavitt said. "I just think it's the way it is, so we get ready and practice."
USF has an advantage with an extra week of rest before playing Rutgers, which plays host to Navy on Saturday. The opposite will be true the rest of the way, as the Bulls' final four opponents will all have at least nine days to prepare for USF.