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College football

Practice to be perfect

By Times staff writers
Published October 20, 2004

GAINESVILLE - While assessing the play of quarterback Chris Leak, Florida coach Ron Zook said that the sophomore's performance last Saturday fell four drops and one interception short of perfection.

And if it is up to receiver Jemalle Cornelius, who accounted for at least two of the drops against Middle Tennessee, Leak might just achieve perfection. Cornelius voluntarily stayed after practice Tuesday for 30 minutes.

"You only have so many opportunities and you want to try to maximize them," he said. "Plus, you want your quarterback to keep faith in you so that when you do get the opportunity, you want to make sure you can make plays. He'll see that and will want to come back to you."

TERRIBLE TRIO: Linebacker Channing Crowder's absence on Saturday gave sophomore Earl Everett a chance to post his most impressive numbers of the season. It also allowed freshman Brandon Siler to record his first career start.

Now, with Crowder back in the fold, the possibility of the three young linebackers playing together at the same time has begun to emerge. And although senior Travis Harris is sure to remain a permanent factor in the Gators linebacker rotation, Zook is at least intrigued by the possibility.

"There's a good chance of that," Zook said of Crowder, Everett and Siler seeing simultaneous playing time.

- BRIAN SHAFFER, Times correspondent

FSU: Playing in the rain

TALLAHASSEE - Since preseason practice, when rain and tropical weather jumbled the Seminoles practice schedule on numerous occasions, they have seen nary a drop. So the showers that dampened the last hour of FSU's practice were a welcome change.

"That's probably good for you because every now and then you have got to get it," coach Bobby Bowden said. "Makes you kind of sloppy handling the football, but the kids need to work in it."

PARKING TROUBLES: After leading the Seminoles to a 36-3 win over Virginia last Saturday, quarterback Wyatt Sexton didn't get to celebrate the most important, and impressive, win of his short career. Instead, Sexton spent the late-night hours with his parents (his father is FSU running backs coach Billy Sexton), younger brother and girlfriend in search of his pickup truck, which was towed from a nearby apartment complex during the game.

"We were out there until about two in the morning, so my celebrating a good win was spent cussing at the top of my lungs wondering where these tow people were," Sexton said.

He insists the truck was parked legally near Burt Reynolds Hall, an off-campus complex not far from Doak Campbell Stadium. But no amount of haggling, nor Sexton's newfound celebrity, got him off the hook. He paid the tow company's $80 fee.

- ZACHARY SPAIN, Times correspondent

USF: Julmiste cool

Quarterback coach Rod Smith spent a few extra minutes talking to Pat Julmiste after practice. The sophomore has a lot on his plate this week.

In his first start on a nationally televised game, Julmiste squares off against the No. 2 rated passer in the nation in Louisville quarterback Stefan Lefors.

"If it's me out there playing, I want to be the best quarterback on the field," Smith said. "So I'm hoping it raises his level."

Lefors was 17-of-22 with three touchdowns Thursday against Miami.

Through five games, Julmiste has completed 52-of-107 passes with five interceptions.

Playing under the lights on ESPN is something different, though. Smith said Julmiste's level-headedness will help.

"He's probably doesn't even realize this game is on ESPN," Smith said.

f,8,ub0 THOMAS SIMONETTI, Times correspondent

UM: High praise for Hester

CORAL GABLES - Devin Hester used his leaping ability to prevent one potential loss this season. He used his speed to avert another.

He's a big reason why the Hurricanes are still in the national championship hunt. Without his late-game heroics, they probably wouldn't be 5-0 and ranked second in the Bowl Championship Series.

"I think he's the best athlete to come through the University of Miami," senior defensive back Antrel Rolle said.

That's high praise, considering 28 of Rolle's former teammates were NFL draft picks.

Hester warrants that talk, though.

His blocked field goal late in the season-opener against Florida State kept Miami within comeback range. His 161 second-half return yards against Louisville, sparked last week's rally to a 41-38 victory.

The fourth-ranked Hurricanes will travel to Raleigh, N.C. for an Atlantic Coast Conference matchup on Saturday. N.C. State coach Chuck Amato likes to compare the football Hurricanes to the storms of the same nam. Amato says Miami is a "Category 5," or the strongest classification of hurricane.

So how does he rank Hester? "Category 6," Amato said.

[Last modified October 20, 2004, 00:18:19]

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