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State practice reports

By Times staff writers

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 11, 2002


UF needs changes after loss

UF needs changes after loss

GAINESVILLE -- Florida senior outside linebacker Bam Hardmon and sophomore inside linebacker Todd McCullough could start at new positions against Ohio on Saturday, part of the changes coach Ron Zook is considering in the wake of the loss to Miami. Hardmon is practicing at middle linebacker, McCullough at outside.

On offense, freshman Randy Hand is practicing at guard and tackle. The kicking game also is under review. Freshman receivers Kenneth Tookes and Reggie Lewis will get significant practice time and could play. Cornerback Keiwan Ratliff practiced at receiver.

Offensive coordinator Ed Zaunbrecher said several of the changes were being contemplated before the Miami game.

"This wasn't a knee-jerk reaction," Zaunbrecher said.

DIXON'S STATUS: Senior free safety Daryl Dixon's status still is up in the air as he struggles to return from shoulder surgery in January.

"I want Daryl at this point in time to stay ready," Zook said. "I think he's close to being ready. He doesn't have 100 percent confidence in his shoulder yet. ... If it gets down the road here before he feels like it's comfortable and ready to take the hits, we got a chance to redshirt him because he does have a redshirt year."

Zook said defensive end Darrell Lee might be ready to play next week. Lee suffered a broken wrist last season against FSU.

-- ANTONYA ENGLISH

Davis returns to practice

TALLAHASSEE -- Freshman Buster Davis returned to practice after missing last week's workouts to deal with personal problems.

A highly touted linebacker from Daytona Beach, Davis did not attend the home opener against Virginia and was reportedly considering transferring.

"Buster came by to see me today and said he wants to get back so we've got him going through some drills this week," coach Bobby Bowden said. "He's got to do that before he can come back. I'm going to meet with him on Monday and see how he's doing on all of these drills. If he's doing what he's supposed to do, we'll get him back on the team."

After missing the Virginia game, Davis went home. Bowden spoke with his parents the day after the game and both sides agreed it would be good for him to return. "I would rather stay here, but if the season and year doesn't go like I want to, there is a possibility that I might transfer," Davis said.

INJURY UPDATE: Linebacker Marcello Church will have surgery on his broken hand today and the team hopes to have him back for the Miami game Oct. 12.

-- JASON SCHNEIDER, TIMES WIRES

Ankle sprain shuffles line

TAMPA -- South Florida sustained a possible setback in its preparation for Saturday's game at Arkansas.

Starting left guard Mark Sopcik, a sophomore from Land O'Lakes, sprained his left ankle in practice.

"I don't know how bad it is," coach Jim Leavitt said. "It will have to be pretty bad for him not to travel this week."

Sopcik has started the first two games, beating out redshirt freshman Shelly Houston for the spot. Houston likely will start if Sopcik can't play. Since Sopcik also is the No. 2 center, freshman John Miller becomes the top backup to starting center Alex Herron.

ON THE RUN: Leavitt emphasized the importance of improving the running game. Running backs have totaled 161 yards on 45 carries (3.6 average) in two games.

BULLS NO. 6: In this week's ESPN.com Mid-Major Top 10, USF is ranked sixth behind Marshall, Southern Miss, Brigham Young, Colorado State and Utah.

-- PETE YOUNG

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