Thursday Report

Coach Ron Zook confirms that defensive end Bobby McCray has indeed been suspended for Saturday's game for academic reasons....

Just as DE Bobby McCray's season appeared to be peaking, academic issues will force the senior to decelerate once again.

McCray, who recorded eight sacks in the past five games, was dished out a one-game suspension for violating the university's class attendance policy, Coach Ron Zook said Thursday. As a result, he will miss Saturday's showdown against Georgia as the Gators fight to stay alive in the Southeastern Conference East title hunt.

"I feel bad for Bobby," Zook said. "Bobby feels bad. He has apologized to the team, the fans and the coaches. Unfortunately it's a bad time. That's the way it is."

As a result, an otherwise full-forced squad will rely on DE Travis Harris to fill McCray's void. Harris started the first four games of the season while McCray struggled to perform because of turf toe.

Harris, a junior from Decatur, Ga., ranks third among the Gators' defensive ends with 19 tackles.

The blow to the Gators comes at a particularly harsh time, considering McCray has played a key role in his team's recent success. The senior snagged a career-high three sacks against the Tigers.

At the start of the season, turf toe inhibited McCray's ability, as he didn't record a single sack in the first three games. He now leads the SEC with eight overall.


While McCray will be forced to sit out, one of the nation's best defensive ends will still attempt to wreak havoc on the field Saturday.

Only problem is, he'll be playing for the other team.

Georgia All-American DE David Pollack, also the SEC player of the year in 2002 as a sophomore, will line up at both ends in attempt to rattle Florida QB Chris Leak. But despite the Gators' added preparation for the 6-foot-3, 276-pound junior, Pollack isn't causing his opponents to run scared.

"He's a tough guy," said OT Max Starks, who will be put in some one-on-one situations with Pollack. "He's going to give you his best effort, but I don't think anyone is invincible. He's a great defensive end. You have to get under his pads before he gets into your chest.

"He's a speed guy and he likes to bull rush you or run past you. You have to get on him real fast before he gets his motor running."

Last year, Florida effectively contained the end as much as it needed to in the 20-13 win. However, he still picked off a pass and recorded 14 tackles. Expect to see much of the same Saturday, as he will likely line up on the opposite side of TE Ben Troupe.

"You want to know where he's at all the time," Zook said. "He's not Superman, but he's pretty good. You have to do some things to stay away from him and keep him off balance a little bit."


Zook defended Georgia coach Mark Richt's decision to have his players practice all week without any full-contact drills. Richt chose the strategy in order to keep his injury-plagued roster from taking any more hits. "Every coach has to do the things he has to do to get his team prepared," Zook said. "They've been going for a while since their open date, so it's probably the smart thing to do." Perhaps the most successful example of a team practicing in such a fashion dates back to 1961 when Bear Bryant led Alabama to a national championship. Bryant ordered his players to practice without pads for five weeks during that season in order to keep his players from overworking their bodies…. Zook said Thursday the Gators are as healthy as they can be. ###

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