TAMPA - USF coach Jim Leavitt isn't thinking about Cincinnati's 4-5 record. The Bearcats' running game concerns him most.
"They are very talented. They run hard," Leavitt said. "Their offensive line does a good job for them, really works you."
Cincinnati's Bradley Glatthaar, Greg Moore and Butler Benton have combined for 1,098 yards and eight touchdowns.
Glatthaar, a sophomore whose hometown is Cincinnati, leads the team with 544 yards and seven scores, but "all three of them are very good," Leavitt said.
Leavitt has called the backs big and strong, and even though Glatthaar is 5 feet 11 and 225 pounds, the Bearcats are sixth in the Big East in rushing offense, while USF is second behind West Virginia.
TOO CLOSE TO CALL: Left tackle Thed Watson will probably be a game-time decision, Leavitt said. The junior has been partially sidelined since Monday with an injury to his right ankle.
"We worked him so far, and he did okay," Leavitt said. "We hope he comes around (today)."
CAPTAINS: This week's captains are running back Andre Hall, safety Johnnie Jones, linebacker Stephen Nicholas and center John Miller.
- MIKE CAMUNAS, Times correspondentUF: Flexible at RB
GAINESVILLE - The Gators didn't have a feature running back until seven games into the season, when DeShawn Wynn emerged. Then, UF used Wynn and freshman Markus Manson. Against South Carolina, freshman Kestahn Moore got five carries and averaged more than both Wynn and Manson.
Offensive coordinator Dan Mullen said Thursday the plan is to use all three.
"They have all done a nice job," he said. "They all have a little bit of a different running style. I like fast, fresh players, and I don't know if any of them are prepared to be 30-carry-a-game workhorse tailbacks for us just yet."
Before the season, junior Skyler Thornton was expected to compete for the job, but he has only 20 carries. His diminished role has been mostly due to the others outperforming him, Mullen said.
"It's not as much him tailing off as the other guys going and really taking it," Mullen said.
Wynn has had a sore shoulder most of the season and now has a slightly tweaked groin, he said.
"I just need rest," Wynn said. "I can't get rest if I want to keep playing in games. I don't think there is one running back in the country right now who isn't playing through an injury. It's just something you have to do."
SURPRISE NOISE: After completing the SEC schedule, Mullen has figured out what his biggest surprise was in the league.
He had to adjust to crowd noise and how it affects the team.
"That's something that I haven't had to deal with a whole lot in the past," Mullen said. "Just that atmosphere, that crowd noise, all the other intangibles of how that affects your team and your performance. That's something you have to be ready for."
ET CETERA: Coach Urban Meyer didn't speak to the media Thursday and most of the assistant coaches were out recruiting. ... The Gators scrimmaged Tuesday and Wednesday, giving some of the backups a chance to play, because of the bye week. "It's nice for everybody to play," Mullen said. "I think a lot of people forget that these are 18-year-old kids playing a game. When they come out here, they want to have fun just like you would at the intramural field or out playing football."
- IAN FISHER, Times correspondentFSU: Some time off
TALLAHASSEE - Thursday's practice ended the work week for FSU. The two days of drills didn't lack enthusiasm despite consecutive losses.
"We're kind of upbeat, we know now how it feels to lose, and to lose two games in a row was devastating to us," said linebacker A.J. Nicholson. "We're kind of loose; knowing what we've got in our future and just trying to reach all our possible goals that we can reach now."
Nicholson leads the team and is seventh in the ACC with 82 tackles.
Injuries have caused Nicholson, a senior, to see new faces in the starting lineup on a weekly basis.
"When you have a (defensive end) Kamerion Wimbley in there, or a (cornerback Antonio) Cromartie that we lost earlier in the year, you lose that chemistry that you had in the spring in two-a-days," Nicholson said. "When you replace someone like that, you try to get the best out of them, but it's awful hard to get that chemistry back."
Wimbley (knee) was third in the conference with 7.5 sacks before going down Nov. 5 against N.C. State.
- D.C. REEVES, Times correspondentUM: Loose, realistic
CORAL GABLES - The Hurricanes were loose during practice, and coach Larry Coker said the explanation was simple. "We play better when we're loose," he said. "We had a lot at stake at Virginia Tech, when guys were loose. I think it's confidence. It's not over the edge. Guys are really confident in what they are doing."
But the Hurricanes are also realistic. "We have a mature team," Coker said. "Guys understand what is at stake. They understand that we haven't done anything yet. We put ourselves in position to do some good things, but we're a long way away from our goal."
Miami will have a final walkthrough this afternoon in preparation for Saturday's game against Georgia Tech.
JACKETS SEE OPPORTUNITY: Georgia Tech is running out of chances to prove it is better than the midlevel ACC teams of recent years.
One such opportunity comes at Miami. The Yellow Jackets, who fell out of the Top 25 with last weekend's loss at Virginia, see the game as a chance to win respect.
"If we want to prove that we're a good team, I feel that we have to play against the best and we have a chance to do that this week by playing the No. 3 team in the country at their place," freshman offensive tackle Andrew Gardner said.
Gardner says morale is not a problem, though Tech has lost its hopes of winning the ACC title.
"I would say it's pretty good because we could still have a good season and have something to be proud of," Gardner said. "It was definitely disappointing not to come away with a win at Virginia and still be in the ACC hunt."