Friday's Premuim Football Practice Notebook

After nearly an hour of nice weather, the clouds rolled away and the sun came out at it was another hot day in Tallahassee. Today marked the final day in shells as Saturday the players will put on full pads for the first time this fall. Despite the fact that they were in just shells Friday, several players were seen clacking helmets and throwing their bodies around to complete their drills.


On Thursday, Florida head coach Urban Meyer went to bat for the Seminoles, saying that the NCAA's ruling on Native American mascots was "awful."

"That's awful, isn't it?" Meyer told reporters. "The next thing you know, they are going to want to take away the Fighting Irish. They're going to have to be something else. But you know, people who are more important than me are involved in that. My opinion doesn't matter on that one."

Meyer can sympathize – for the past two seasons he led the Utah Utes, who derive their nickname from a local tribe of Native Americans.

Bowden said that he had not heard about the comment.

"Not bad for a guy from Ohio," he joked. "We appreciate it."


There's no reason to think that punt returner Willie Reid won't be able to challenge his own school record for return yardage in a season.

Now that the senior is healthy and stabilized at one position on offense, the sky is the limit.

"I think I accomplish big things this year," said Reid, who was bothered by a groin strain for the entire season in 2004. "I'm feeling good."

Reid said there is no reason to believe that his return chores will be diminished since he is now one of the starters at wide receiver. Up until last season, the Georgia native had bounced between tailback and wideout spots, depending on where the greatest need was.

"He's healthy and you can tell a big difference," Bowden said, putting emphasis on the "big".

Despite his ailments, Reid totaled 522 yards on punt returns last season, edging Deion Sanders' previous mark on 505 yards.


Redshirt freshmen Tony Carter has been working with the first-team defense in place of Antonio Cromartie, who is out for the season. Despite a lack of size, Carter has shown Coach Mickey Andrews a desire worthy of the promotion.

Tony Carter may not have size. He may not have the prototypical build. He may not, in fact, have much of the criteria that anyone would expect in a corner. But his drive and determination has more than compensated for what he lacks and that's what coach Mickey Andrews likes to see.

For the past few days, Carter has worked with the first-team defense, filing the void left by the Seminoles "shut-down" corner Antonio Cromartie.

"He's starting to do things like a first-teamer," said Andrews. "The thing I like about him is that he competes. I didn't put him up there. He did that himself."

Because of available personnel, Andrews is currently utilizing a different system in the defensive backfield. Instead of using a right or left corner, Andrews has termed the positions "field" and "boundary." Carter is designated to the field side, which means he'll have more open space to cover. The boundary corner, Gerard Ross, will be positioned on the short side.

It's a system that Andrews has used in the past, and will continue to experiment with since he thinks it may work best with the players he has now.

"Basically the ball's on one hash and (I'm) on an island out there," said Carter, whose speed and athleticism make him a good fit for the field side. "It a little tough because you have to cover more. Boundary corners are usually a bit bigger."

Andrews said that Carter still needs to work on tackling. During Friday's practice, Andrews saw Carter miss several tackles. If he wants to remain in the starting position, Carter will need to improve on his weaknesses, especially since he'll be covering a lot of open space.

But Carter has the right coaching to bring him along.

Carter says that senior leadership, coming from guys like Pat Watkins and Kyler Hall, will help steer this secondary, which is missing on-the-field experience. The veterans of the unit have already stepped forward to motivate their teammates after the loss of Cromartie.

"Pat and Kyler Hall will take us through it," Carter said. "We learn as we go on. We're just going to hope for the best."

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