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Zook on special teams: 'I'll get it corrected'

By ANTONYA ENGLISH and JILL MARTIN

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 29, 2002


GAINESVILLE -- Florida's special teams have resembled a roller coaster this season. The group played so poorly early that personnel changes were made after the second game. They seemed to work, until Saturday when mistakes led to 27 Kentucky points.

GAINESVILLE -- Florida's special teams have resembled a roller coaster this season. The group played so poorly early that personnel changes were made after the second game. They seemed to work, until Saturday when mistakes led to 27 Kentucky points.

A bobbled snap by punter Sean Morton led to a 14-yard touchdown from Kentucky quarterback Jared Lorenzen to Derek Abney. Later, Abney ran a kickoff back 100 yards for a touchdown and returned a punt 49 yards for a touchdown.

Then Tampa's Jason Hunter had a punt blocked late in the third quarter that led to a 1-yard touchdown for Artose Pinner.

Kicker Matt Leach also missed two extra points.

"The special teams thing was as bad as I've ever seen it, but I take full responsibility for it," coach Ron Zook said. "And I'll tell you something else: I'll get it corrected. I thought it was getting better, and we were, but we took eight steps back tonight."

IN MEMORY: Five weeks ago, an ailing Pete Zook fulfilled a wish to sit at Florida Field and watch his son, Ron, make his collegiate coaching debut at Florida.

On Saturday, two days after his death, the Florida players honored the elder Zook by wearing the name "Pete" on the back of their helmets.

Pete Zook died of cancer at age 75 on Thursday. His family, including two other sons, a daughter and his wife of 55 years, Dorothy, attended Saturday's game together.

NEW OPTIONS: After making his rushing debut against Tennessee, backup quarterback Ingle Martin is becoming a regular in Florida's offense.

On third and 3 in the first quarter, quarterback Rex Grossman split wide and Martin lined up at quarterback in the shotgun, running up the middle for a first down.

Grossman was at quarterback for the next play, and the Gators scored two plays later.

Martin worked out at receiver in practices last week, and caught a 5-yard pass late in the third quarter.

HE'S BACK: Tackle Mo Mitchell returned Thursday after missing nearly two weeks for personal reasons.

Mitchell played nearly all of the game and earned Zook's praise, which didn't sit well with senior David Jorgensen.

After the game, Jorgensen said he was upset that someone who had missed so much time could immediately step in, while he played just eight plays.

Saying "I can't go on like this," Jorgensen said he planned to meet with the coaches as soon as possible to discuss his status.

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