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Hurricane sends Bulls to Trop for practice

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By Times Staff

Published October 25, 2005


ST. PETERSBURG - Hurricane Wilma had postponed its homecoming game against West Virginia for six weeks, so USF wasn't about to let the storm take away an afternoon practice.

The Bulls took three buses to Tropicana Field on Monday, where they worked out for 90 minutes in the climate-controlled convenience of the Devil Rays' outfield.

"We'd be outside if it weren't for the wind," said coach Jim Leavitt , who patrolled centerfield while the offense worked in rightfield and defense in left. "We were going to be getting 30 mile-an-hour gusts."

What's more, the stadium's FieldTurf artificial surface is the same one the Bulls will play on in their next two games, Nov.5 at Rutgers and Nov.12 at Syracuse.

The Bulls practiced at Tropicana one other time, in August 2001, the week before they played on the same FieldTurf at Northern Illinois.

The Rays allowed USF to use the field at no cost, and vice president Rick Vaughn said the gesture was "just a case of us being a good neighbor."

The Bulls play in the Carrier Dome in Syracuse in 19 days, and Tropicana's size made for an interesting practice setup. Punter Brandon Baker could stand behind second base at the edge of the infield dirt and send punts to the warning track in straightaway center.

FAMILIAR BUT DIFFERENT: For co-defensive coordinator Rick Kravitz , Monday's practice was different from most of his visits to the Trop.

His daughter, Kristin , is set to marry Rays pitcher Doug Waechter in December, and when they watch him on the mound, they're caught up in watching him throw.

"I'm a nervous wreck, probably just as bad as I am at a football game," Kravitz said. "I'm with him every pitch."

- GREG AUMAN, Times staff writer

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Guest FreaKnight!

Interesting article.  That's great that the Devil Ray's assisted in that way.

On a similar topic, I have no doubt now that UCF's indoor facility has helped improve game-time performance by allowing the coaches to schedule and then hold practices in a routine with literally no weather related interuptions.

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One thing that i would LOVE to see on the USF athletic website, would be drawings of the facility upgrades that were shown earlier in the year with a link were fans could donate money to each specific facility. also a barometer on how much money has been raised for each. This would make it easier for everyone to see and donate.

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