OUTBACK BOWL NOTEBOOK

Defensive end learns from marathon bus ride

Two Florida offensive linemen miss practice Monday.


Published: Tuesday, December 30, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, December 29, 2003 at 11:57 p.m.
TAMPA - Florida defensive end Darrell Lee picked up one valuable (and tedious) travel tip this holiday season: Never travel standby, especially the day after Christmas.
Lee tried doing that from Cincinnati to Tampa on Friday, got bumped and couldn't find any other way to the Outback Bowl except on a Greyhound Bus.
It turned into a 24-hour ride that featured stops in too many cities and towns to count. "You meet a lot of different and interesting people. It was a new experience for me," Lee said. "It's a totally different way to travel."
Lee did not arrive in Tampa until 1 a.m. Saturday, about 24 hours after he boarded the bus in Cincinnati.
"We stopped so many times I can't remember how many towns we went through," he said.
Lee's luggage made the flight to Tampa, leaving him with his Walkman and a portable DVD player for the long ride.
"I had three DVDs ('Old School,' 'The Matrix Reloaded' and 'Martin Lawrence Stand-up') that I watched over and over," Lee said. "It was pretty boring. It was a bad decision on my part, flying (standby) the day after Christmas."
  • GATORS SHORT ON OL: Florida practiced without two starting offensive linemen Monday - senior left guard Shannon Snell and sophomore center Mike Degory.
    Snell had a slight touch of the flu, while Degory was excused to attend a funeral.
    UF coach Ron Zook said Snell will return today, but he's not certain if Degory will practice again before Thursday's game against Iowa.
    "Shannon had a 100-degree temperature. He wanted to go, but we thought it best not to. He'll be fine," Zook said. "He was in meetings and was going to go, but we need to make sure he plays on Thursday.
    "Degory might be back (today). I don't know for sure. But he'll be in the game. He'll be here for that."
    Also on the injury/sick front, starting long snapper Casey Griffith has fully recovered from the flu and has been practicing this week. He missed the final two practices in Gainesville before the team left for Tampa.
  • DAY AT THE BEACH: After morning practice Monday, the Gators and Hawkeyes had an opportunity to spend the afternoon at the beach in Clearwater. Zook said the Hawkeyes probably are getting more of a kick out of the warm weather this week than the Gators.
    "It's something we probably take for granted," Zook said. "(The Hawkeyes) like it because it's warm and they're able to be outside in the sun. I don't know if that's an advantage for us or not."
  • NOT ALL BUSINESS: Although Zook and the Gators have been stressing how important this game is, the players are having a chance to get away from Tampa and enjoy the nightlife in Ybor City. Curfew the first two nights has been 1 a.m., an hour later than last year.
    "You let them have some fun," Zook said. "It's a serious game. Bowl games are for the fans and the families. On the same token, it's the same in school. It's not all football (during the regular season). But the players are a little bit more relaxed than if they were going to classes and so forth."
  • THIS AND THAT: Florida's two junior college signees - tight end Markell Thomson and defensive end Jeremy Mincey - are still waiting to get classes scheduled for the spring semester and have not been able to join the team in Tampa yet. "They have to have a schedule before they can practice. That's what we're still waiting on," Zook said. . . . Former Gator quarterback and graduate assistant Noah Brindise will be named the offensive coordinator at East Carolina later this week. He's still working on a contract with ECU. Brindise has been Steve Spurrier's quarterback coach with the Washington Redskins the past two seasons. He will be working for former UF defensive coordinator John Thompson, who departed at this time a year ago to become the Pirates' head coach. . . . Offensive tackle Jonathan Colon practiced at full speed Monday without any pain in his lower back, he said. Colon ruptured a disc in his back in the FSU game and had to sit out the pre-bowl practices in Gainesville. "It feels good. As long as there's no pain, I'm going to play," he said.
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