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Running back set to return for Miami

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times,
published November 23, 2001

MIAMI -- Running back Willis McGahee expects to play Saturday for Miami after missing the past two games with a sprained left knee.

But what will his role be now that freshman Frank Gore has thrived as the No.2 back?

McGahee, who started the season behind Clinton Portis, will be worked back into the rotation slowly, and coach Larry Coker said his carries might be affected.

"(McGahee) did play well when he had his opportunities," Coker said. "It wasn't anything he did wrong. There's definitely a role and place for Willis."

McGahee injured his knee on a kickoff return against West Virginia. He will not handle kickoff duties against Washington but will return to that role. He also could be used in short-yardage situations and in the one-back set.

"It's been frustrating," said McGahee, who has 58 carries for 277 yards and 3 touchdowns this season. "It's like a redshirt year all over again. It's not fun sitting out watching people play when you can't play and when you know you can do the same things they do.

"Everything happens for a reason. They just have to work me back in the system."

SOUTH FLORIDA: Eight seniors had their final practice. Defensive backs Bernard Brown and Joe Morgan, guards Jimmy Fitts and Matt Sparrowhawk, defensive lineman Tchecoy Blount, running back Derrick Rackard, receiver Alvin Salter and linebacker Anthony Williams will be introduced before Saturday's 7 p.m. home game against Utah State. Additionally, Billy Attix, who started a combined six games at guard in 1998 and 1999 before a neck injury and fusion surgery ended his career, will be introduced.

"It really hit me today that this was our final practice," said Brown, one of the six players left from the first season. "It's bittersweet. It's a little sad. But it's really okay because it's not only an end, but a beginning."

Jets coach Herm Edwards watched practice. The Jets are in their bye week and Edwards, a former assistant with the Buccaneers, has a son, Marcus, on the team.

CENTRAL FLORIDA: Fourteen seniors practiced for the last time as the Knights prepared for Saturday's home game against Louisiana-Lafayette. At the end of practice, the returning players shook hands with the seniors. "It's always a sad thing," coach Mike Kruczek said. "You spend a lot of time with them, and most of the time, it's a very positive experience. They've been instrumental in bringing this program a long way."

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