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Suspensions come to an end

The regular season is half over, and for USF that means three key players are eligible to play.

Running back Ricky Ponton, wide receiver Jackie Chambers and defensive end Josh Julmiste are done serving their respective six-game suspensions for violating team rules and will able to play Saturday against North Carolina, coach Jim Leavitt said.

Ben Williams, who rushed for a career-high 108 yards in the Bulls’ 38-16 win against Connecticut, has started the past five games at running back, while wide receivers Ean Randolph, Taurus Johnson, Marcus Edwards, Amarri Jackson and S.J. Green have combined for 987 yards without Chambers’ help.

Four defensive ends have started while Julmiste has been on the sideline – Treco Bellamy, Woody George, Jarriett Buie and George Selvie.

Leavitt hasn’t decided if the three returning players will start, but he said they’re done serving their punishments.

“They’re great guys,” Leavitt said Monday after practice. “(Whether or not they start will be) decided on how they practice. Nothing will be held against them. They’ve been severely punished.”

Grothe expected to start: After leaving the field for one offensive series with a foot injury early in the second quarter against the Huskies, quarterback Matt Grothe is expected to be ready for Saturday’s game against the Tar Heels, Leavitt said.

Grothe wore a boot on his right foot at practice and threw the ball on the sidelines.

“We had (his foot) checked today, and everything is fine,” Leavitt said. “Nothing is broken.”

Too many mistakes: The Bulls committed 15 penalties for a setback of 113 yards against the Huskies – something Leavitt considers to be one of the most important stats in a game.

“You can’t have a lot of little here-and-there (penalties), not against teams that are real good,” Leavitt said. “Two stats that are big with me are penalties and turnovers. Those are the two that I look at the most.”

Despite USF’s totaling season highs in penalties and penalty yards in the win over Connecticut, the Bulls were helped Saturday by not giving up any turnovers – a first for USF’s offense this season.