tampabay.com

Backup Lee plans to stay put

By BRIAN LANDMAN
Published October 2, 2005


TALLAHASSEE - After weeks of rumors about his future, fueled in part when he expressed frustration about playing time, heralded redshirt freshman Xavier Lee cleared the air Saturday.

"I'm not going anywhere," he said. "I'm just going to stick this out. I made the decision to come here and I'm going to stick it out. I'm just going to compete hard. Drew (Weatherford) 's done nothing but make me better, and he's doing well for our team. I just hope I get the chance to be part of it."

Lee said it's untrue he has been sulking on the sideline and not paying attention.

"It's crazy stuff," said Lee, who did talk with quarterbacks coach Daryl Dickey last week. "I'm just trying to keep my head above water and be supportive of my team and not be negative and just be happy where I am. I also want to play."

He got that chance early in the second quarter for a series and showed his talent. He stepped up in the pocket and threw deep for St. Petersburg Catholic star receiver Chris Davis ; Davis dived and pulled in a 56-yard pass that led to a field goal.

"It was nothing planned, it was just kind of an impulse," coach Bobby Bowden said of going to Lee then. "Daryl Dickey wanted to do it. We had a two-touchdown lead and I felt like, "Okay. Let's do it.' He got in there and got in there under some pressure.

"The only thing about it, when you have a quarterback like Weatherford in there and you take him out so this guy can get some experience, don't forget he doesn't have any, either. He needs to be playing every down. Xavier needed it, too, and he got it and I thought he responded very well and it's very pleasing."

Lee was 5-of-10 for 162 yards.

WELCOME BACK: Although he typically prefers to keep playing when his team has momentum, Bowden said the bye last week afforded a handful of players time to recover from injuries.

Nose guard Brodrick Bunkley (knee bruise), the former Chamberlain star, started and was constantly in the backfield with three tackles for a loss and 1.5 sacks. Receiver Willie Reid (knee) came back in a big way after missing the past two games, and center David Castillo (foot surgery) started after also missing two games.

"It felt good," Castillo said. "I was a little rusty, definitely. It's hard being out three weeks and then playing; it's like playing your first game of the season again."

SCHEDULING PHILOSOPHY: Syracuse first-year coach Greg Robinson inherited a schedule that features three ranked nonconference opponents - Virginia on Sept.17, FSU and Notre Dame on Nov.19 - all on the road. Surely, when he's making the call, the Orange won't do that again. Well ...

"I don't have a problem with it," he said. "We don't need to play a Top 10 team every week, but when you schedule, you don't really know (how good an opponent may be). ... I think it's a matter of, are you looking for a cakewalk or are you looking for a challenge? I don't mind some of those challenges."