Originally created 12/29/00

Sugar bowl notebook



NEW ORLEANS --The Florida Gators got quite a scare Thursday when freshman offensive lineman Earnest Smith had to be taken off the field on a stretcher.

Smith, a 6-foot-3, 320-pound member of the scout team, sprained his neck when he collided with a defensive player during practice at the Superdome, coach Steve Spurrier said. Although Smith still had feeling in his arms and legs, team doctors placed his neck and back in braces and took him to a local hospital for tests.

X-rays were negative, Spurrier said. Team officials said Smith was released from the hospital Thursday afternoon.

"I guess he came off (the ball) and butted heads with his head down somehow and sprained his neck pretty good," Spurrier said. "He was moving all of his arms and legs, but he sort of had a bad stinger."

Smith is redshirting this season.

ON THE MEND:

Florida middle linebacker Andra Davis, out since the season opener with a knee injury, practiced Wednesday for the first time since the injury. He said he felt like he was close to fully recovering from the left knee injury he sustained against Ball State on Sept. 2.

Davis, a junior, would like to play Tuesday night against No. 2 Miami in the Sugar Bowl. But his return is unlikely, especially with the game being played on artificial turf.

"I doubt if he will play," Spurrier said before quickly recanting his statement. "Maybe we can get him in for a couple plays."

NOT A DONE DEAL:

It has been more than a month since Hurricanes coach Butch Davis and Miami began negotiations on a new contract, but the deal doesn't seem to be close to completion.

"To be honest with you, I tried to enjoy the holidays the last couple of days and I haven't had a chance to talk to (athletic director) Paul Dee," said Davis, who also said he has no plans to leave Miami for any other job.

Miami has offered Davis a new five-year contract worth about $1.3 million annually. Davis, 49, is in his fourth year of a seven-year deal that pays him about $900,000 annually.

Dee, negotiating with Davis' agent, Marvin Demoff, said the two sides were still trying to work out the length of the contract. Dee wants a five-year deal; Davis wants a shorter deal.

RHODES RECOVERING:

Miami defensive end Jevon Rhodes, who started the season opener, returned to practice this week for the first time in more than a month since a scary injury he suffered against Syracuse.

Davis said Rhodes sustained a kidney malfunction after taking a hit in the back and spent several days in the hospital last month. Doctors have cleared him to play against Florida.

Rhodes has been limited with ankle and back problems since the opener.