Gators, Lions partake of pre-pregame meal
The Gators formally arrived in Tampa on Sunday evening and, in a gastronomical alliance with Penn State, consumed nearly three tons of Outback Steakhouse fare.
The entire Florida and Penn State traveling parties (players, coaches, staff) convened Sunday at the A La Carte Pavilion for the Outback Bowl's annual team welcome dinner, where more than 5,400 pounds of food was served, according to a bowl release. The sustenance included 750 pounds of sirloin, 900 pounds of ribs, 750 pounds of chicken, 1,200 pounds of cheese cake and 950 pounds of cheese fries.
Naturally, Joe Paterno's brief appearance at the podium stole the show.
In response to the animated opening remarks by Outback Bowl CEO Jim McVay, who lauded both teams and reiterated his excitement at the New Year's Day matchup, the 84-year-old Nittany Lions coach cracked: "That Outback gentleman...he must have some (Italian) in him. He's all over the place with his arms."
Both teams begin game-week preparations in earnest Monday, though Penn State has been in town a week already, holding roughly a half-dozen practices (including one two-a-day) at the Carpenter Complex -- spring home of the Philadelphia Phillies -- in Clearwater.
"We went live a few times during the practices," senior wide receiver Brett Brackett said. "It wasn't just us versus the scout team, we went ones-versus-ones and twos-versus-twos, just tried to scrimmage a little bit and get after it, get back in the swing of things. It's been a while since we played a game."
-- JOEY KNIGHT