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Gators make some progress

By ANTONYA ENGLISH, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 7, 2002

GAINESVILLE -- Given the chance, Florida coach Ron Zook would like to have 15 more days of spring practice to work with his new team.

But because that's not going to happen, Zook said after Saturday's Orange and Blue game that the Gators made about as much progress as possible during the time they had.

The first-team Orange defeated the Blue 20-10 in front of an estimated record spring crowd of 39,500 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. "We sat down as a staff, and what we wanted to accomplish at the end of 15 practices, I think we've gotten everything accomplished," Zook said.

"Are we ready to play yet? No, but we're not supposed to be ready to play yet."

Unlike previous seasons under former coach Steve Spurrier, there is no quarterback controversy. Heisman runner-up Rex Grossman is the starter.

But redshirt freshman Ingle Martin, who struggled early in the spring, had a solid outing Saturday.

Martin was 14-for-20 for 145 yards. That included a 49-yard pass to sophomore Reggie Vickers (three catches, 77 yards) during a 10-play drive that led to a 28-yard field goal by Jeff Whitaker. That gave the Blue its only lead at 3-0.

"I think I've learned more than I ever learned about football in these 15 days," Martin said.

Martin's backup, Jeff Creveling, went 5-for-12 for 57 yards. Grossman was 17-for-29 for 257 yards and one interception. He said the most difficult part of the spring was learning a new offense.

"We're going to work a lot this summer on our own, do a lot of routes on our own on the practice field and slowly get better," Grossman said.

"I'm satisfied that we're going to have a great offense next year and we can build on what we did today and all through spring."

The Orange scored its first touchdown on Earnest Graham's 5-yard run with 6:57 left in the second quarter for a 7-3 lead.

Grossman threw his only touchdown, a 6-yarder to Matt Jackson, with four seconds left in the first half.

Matt Leach made field goals of 41 and 24 yards.

The Orange amassed 354 offensive yards and the Blue 249.

The Blue scored its lone touchdown on the opening drive of the second half on a 5-yard run by Ralph Townsend with 7:46 left in the third quarter. It was the only negative for defensive coordinator John Thompson.

"The one disappointing thing was the first series of the second half, and I think our guys really came out flat," Thompson said. "At halftime, we switched a lot of people, so that says we think we have some depth and some playmakers. Overall, we were really pleased."

Receiver Brian Stone had five catches for 57 yards. Kelvin Kight had three for 63 yards, and senior tight end Aaron Walker had three catches for 64 yards, including a 37-yarder.

Cornerback Keiwan Ratliff played on both sides of the ball, grabbing a 21-yard pass from Grossman. Ran Carthon led all rushers with 77 yards on 18 carries, and Graham had 10 carries for 46 yards.

Junior Sean Morton had six punts for 222 yards (37.0 average), including a 51-yarder.

NOTES: Receiver Taylor Jacobs injured his shoulder slightly and was held out of the second half. Reid Fleming was held out for evaluation after a hard hit to the head.

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