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College football around the state

By Compiled from Times correspondents and wire reports

© St. Petersburg Times, published August 25, 2000

FSU is eager for Pigskin Classic

TALLAHASSEE -- After 17 days of practice, coach Bobby Bowden believes his team is as ready as it is going to get for Saturday's season opener against Brigham Young.

"There is no reason for us not to play good," Bowden said. "The kids have practiced well, done everything we've asked and are in pretty good shape. It's just a matter of going out and doing your thing."

The team made final preparations for the Pigskin Classic with a 90-minute practice Thursday that included running smoother passing routes and going through simulation drills.

"(They) just need to play a ballgame now," Bowden said. "Getting tired of practicing against each other all the time. Both (offensive and defensive) teams are ready to look at another opponent."

INJURY UPDATE: Linebacker Brian Allen (ankle), linebacker Tommy Polley (knee) and defensive end David Warren (back) are probable. Kicker Brett Cimorelli (groin) is doubtful. Offensive tackle Ross Brannon (knee), offensive guard Jerry Carmichael (knee), defensive end Roland Seymour (knee) and fullback Chad Maeder (knee) are out.

- Alex Abrams

Brown commends teammates

GAINESVILLE -- With a little more than a week until its first game against Ball State, defensive end Alex Brown said the Gators were starting to come together.

After Florida's afternoon practice, Brown said despite the heat, the defense came out with the right attitude and made progress.

"It's just one of the things that you just got to do," he said. "I think guys came out here focused, and we got a lot done today. We don't have many mistakes being made out there now. If we do have one it's not an argument, we just try to correct the problem."

Focus is something defensive coordinator Jon Hoke said the defense needs to work on. After the first three scrimmages, the second-year coach said the team needed work on long-term concentration.

The Gators will hold their final scrimmage of the preseason this afternoon.

"The biggest thing we need to do during the scrimmage is stay focused the entire time," Hoke said. "Sometimes after we have done well for a while, we tend to lose focus."

PEARSON RETURNS: Offensive tackle Mike Pearson returned to practice in pads but wore a no-contact jersey. Pearson, who fractured his skull last month while riding in the back of a pickup truck, said he is a little concerned about being hit in the head.

"We'll find out how good I am really doing when I get that first knock on the head," said the former Armwood star.

INJURY REPORT: Freshman wide receiver Reggie Vickers is suffering from a nagging injury and did not participate in practice. Running back Chuck Marks is out because of a knee surgery but might return for the Ball State game Sept. 2.

- Debi Jones

Tucker, Whittaker transfer in

TAMPA -- Maurice Tucker, a 6-1, 190 defensive back from Bartow and Indiana University, and wide receiver Huey Whittaker (6-5, 220) have been admitted to South Florida and joined the team for practice.

Tucker played two seasons at Indiana, starting seven games in 1999. He will sit out the season because of NCAA transfer rules. He'll be a junior in 2001. Whittaker, a sophomore, is eligible immediately after transferring from Hudson Valley C.C., where he played one season. A graduate of Springstead High, he had six catches for 83 yards and a touchdown at Hudson Valley.

"We're very excited to have both players," coach Jim Leavitt said. "Tucker will have to sit out and it's too early to say if Huey Whittaker will help us this year because he has some catching up to do in terms of being here for practice. But even if it's not this season, we're confident he's going to help us."

FILM REVIEW: After looking at film from the Wednesday scrimmage, Leavitt reiterated he wants to work more on the running game.

"We need some work on the run," he said. "But we're starting to put some depth together on the offensive line and we'll keep working at it."

The Bulls will go through two-a-days today and Saturday before a short single practice on Sunday to close out "summer camp."

School starts Monday, and the schedule moves to one practice Monday-Thursday.

- Times wires

Kicking game frustrates Joe

TALLAHASSEE -- Florida A&M finished two-a-days, but coach Billy Joe is not satisfied with the kicking game.

"We're still in the process of putting that together," he said after seeing his team work on blocking and special teams. "We have some concerns and issues with our kicking, but I think in time it will all come together."

FAMU probably will use redshirt junior T.J. Smith as its punter and freshman Juan Vasquez as placekicker, but that could change after Saturday's closed scrimmage. The kickoff job is up for grabs.

"Things have been a little shaky and inconsistent. We've got a lot of work to do," Smith said. "It's a tough job, but that's what we're here for, to get the job done. And that's what we'll do."

- Jabari Ritchie

Health continues to improve

CORAL GABLES -- Miami continues to return to health. Tight end Jeremy Shockey returned after missing five days with an ankle sprain and offensive lineman Scott Puckett was cleared to practice after recovering from a back injury.

"We had a very good start to the first week of actual game preparation," coach Butch Davis said. "We're actually in the Tuesday portion of what a normal game week would be. Some of our guys are getting back from injuries and we're encouraged by what we're seeing."

- Times wires

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