Nicholson in running for award

By Times staff writers
Published November 4, 2005

TALLAHASSEE - Florida State's A.J. Nicholson got good news two days before playing his final home game at Doak Campbell Stadium.

The outside linebacker was named one of the 12 semifinalists for the Bednarik Award, given to the top defensive player in the nation. Maryland linebacker D'Qwell Jackson, from Seminole High, and Boston College defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka are the other semifinalists from the ACC. The others: Elvis Dumervil, Louisville defensive end; Chad Greenway, Iowa linebacker; Aaron Harris, Texas linebacker; Spencer Havner, UCLA linebacker; A.J. Hawk, Ohio State linebacker; Mathias Kiwanuka, Boston College defensive end; Tim McGarigle, Northwestern linebacker; Paul Posluszny, Penn State linebacker; DeMeco Ryans, Alabama linebacker; Patrick Willis, Mississippi linebacker.

Nicholson said of facing N.C. State on Saturday: "I am going to be very emotional when I go out there and play. Also, I am concentrating on what I have to do and what we have to do and that is beat N.C. State and clinch at least a spot in the ACC Championship Game. It will be emotional, but you have to keep you emotions at an even keel."

Cornerback Trevor Ford will help a depleted secondary Saturday after neck and shoulder injuries caused him to miss the past four games.

FSU's Bobby Bowden and Miami's Larry Coker were among 12 semifinalists for the George Munger Coach of the Year Award. The others: Barry Alvarez, Wisconsin; Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech; Mack Brown, Texas; Pete Carroll, Southern Cal; Karl Dorrell, UCLA; Les Miles, LSU; Joe Paterno, Penn State; Mark Richt, Georgia; Mike Shula, Alabama; Charlie Weis, Notre Dame.

- D.C. REEVES, Times correspondent

UF: Hoping for Baker

GAINESVILLE - Although receiver Dallas Baker was on crutches all week with a sprained ankle until Thursday, he may play this weekend against Vanderbilt, coach Urban Meyer said.

Baker didn't practice but ran in the morning.

"We're holding out hope," Meyer said.

Receivers Chad Jackson and Jemalle Cornelius should be back to full speed. Jackson has had sore hamstrings and Cornelius had a sprained ankle.

But Meyer said Baker is the Gators' best receiver and is needed.

"He won't be at full speed, but there are still some things you can do with him," Meyer said.

TICKETS AVAILABLE: A limited number of $28 tickets are available for Saturday's game. Call the ticket office today, toll-free 1-800-344-2867. PELL'S WIDOW RETURNS: Ward Pell, the widow of former Gators coach Charley Pell, was in Gainesville on Thursday.

Charley Pell helped build the program, but he was fired in 1984 for a slew of NCAA violations, and the school was put on NCAA probation in 1985.

Pell died of cancer in May 2001.

"I read a lot about her late husband, Coach Pell, and one day I just called her and invited her back and invited her to meet Shelley," Meyer said, referring to his wife. "I think that's important."

- IAN FISHER, Times correspondent

USF: Leavitt stays focused

TAMPA - Two days in a row, prominent Big East games were on ESPN and ESPN2. On Wednesday, No. 18 West Virginia beat Connecticut 45-13, and Thursday, No. 24 Louisville beat Pittsburgh 42-20.

Though it doesn't seem as if coach Jim Leavitt noticed.

"I peeked at (the West Virginia game) a couple of times," Leavitt said. "I was watching more film on us for most of the night. I didn't get to watch a lot of it."

Leavitt said he probably wouldn't watch much of Thursday's game either because he's focused on Rutgers, which hosts USF on Saturday.

"I've thought about them for about two weeks now," Leavitt said. "I'm really not thinking about much else."

The Rutgers backfield is led by junior fullback Brian Leonard, who has 562 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. Freshman running back Raymell Rice has 622 yards and three touchdowns.

"They're a really good team," he said. "Those two (running backs) especially, but they're good everywhere. Just good."

- MIKE CAMUNAS, Times correspondent

UM: A test for Moss

CORAL GABLES - Hurricanes running back Tyrone Moss faces a big challenge in Virginia Tech's defense Saturday.

The Hokies haven't allowed a 100-yard rusher all season, have yielded only three 60-yard running games by any opposing player and have given up a mere two touchdowns on 253 carries.

Moss is coming off the best game of his career, 195 yards and four touchdowns against North Carolina.

"We know that Virginia Tech has a great defensive line, great linebackers, things like that," Moss said. "So we've just got to go out there and play our ball."