Saturday Practice Report

Florida lets the younger Gators see what they'll be left with next season as the seniors ended their workout early Saturday. Plus much, much more....

For a team earning such high praise because of its youthful talent, Florida's practice field became a whole lot emptier when the seniors ended their workout early Saturday.

OG Shannon Snell said the departing Gators let the team to practice without them for a chunk of the workout, allowing them to gauge who will be left next season.

"You just want them to know what they'll be dealing with a year from now," Snell said. "It's time for them to start thinking about it."

Friday, the seniors also didn't practice the entire time, instead giving the team time without them at the beginning of the workout.

The loss of this year's class will impact the defense significantly. Florida will be without nine starters, including CB Keiwan Ratliff, SS Guss Scott, DE Bobby McCray and FS Daryl Dixon.

On offense, TE Ben Troupe, OT Max Starks, WR Kelvin Kight and WR Carlos Perez were among those missing.

But keeping the seniors out of practice isn't intended to simply scare the team. Coach Ron Zook said the strategy was meant to allow the younger Gators to earn more individual attention.


True freshman Chris Leak hasn't left any questions concerning his status as the starting quarterback. But for those keeping track, QB Gavin Dickey may have a little more incentive to remain focused.

As a result of Ingle Martin's recent decision to transfer, Dickey naturally moves into the role as the primary backup.

"It's unfortunate Ingle had to leave because we had developed a pretty good friendship, but it also opens up an opportunity for me," Dickey said. "But as far as the way I practice, nothing will really change. I approach each week the same way with the same focus."

Dickey, who once considered a transfer earlier in the season, appears to be making the most of his tenure as a Gator considering the circumstances. For the past three weeks, the Tallahassee native has been working out with Florida's baseball team.

While he now spends three to four times a week taking batting practice, Dickey will workout with the goal of playing outfield for the Gators.

In his senior season at Lincoln High, Dickey boasted a .367 batting average, nine doubles and four home runs.

"I haven't played in a long time," Dickey said. "It's nice to get back out there."


This week began what could become a long list of honors racked up for two of Florida's standout freshmen. Sporting News named Leak and LB Channing Crowder as its Southeastern Conference Freshmen of the Year for offense and defense Thursday.

Florida also nabbed five other players on the 2003 All-SEC Freshman Team. Along with Leak and Crowder, WR Andre Caldwell, DT Ray McDonald and P Eric Wilbur, were named to the Sporting News' squad.

Crowder finished his regular season with 97 tackles – the Gators' second leading tackler – despite missing two games. Leak ended the regular season 6-2 as a starter and threw for 2,167 yards and 14 touchdowns.


If you think time has healed Florida's bitterness over the controversial officiating in last week's loss to Florida State, a simple stroll through Gainesville would be enough to disprove that theory.

Hundreds of fans recently bought out a supply of shirts sold at Gator Mania, a local shop inside Gainesville's mall. In orange lettering, the blue t-shirt reads, "Who paid off the refs?"

So just how popular are the shirts becoming? Although a store employee couldn't estimate how many hundreds have been sold, she did say the store reloaded with another shipment of 500 on Saturday afternoon.

At Saturday's basketball game, Joe Maltby, 68, wore his for the second game this week. His wife, Judy, 66, decided she'd take a break from wearing hers. Three consecutive days were enough.

"I wore it to the beauty parlor, the grocery store -- everywhere I went," she laughed. "We're just still not happy about what happened."


Scott, who got turned around in the end zone as FSU WR P.K. Sam broke coverage for a 52-yard touchdown to win the game, said he hasn't thought much about the play since that night. Instead, the senior has focused on moving beyond the slip-up. "Sometimes, things like that happen and you just have to get over it. You can't win them all. I don't really think about the play until I talk to the media. Nobody else has really talked about it. There's nothing I can do about it now. You can't let football control your life. It's just a game, even though we'd love to win." ###

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