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State practice reports

By Times staff writers
© St. Petersburg Times
published October 30, 2002


Rix won't accept all the blame

ALLAHASSEE -- A day after being benched, quarterback Chris Rix talked Tuesday about his performance in the loss to Notre Dame and FSU's worst start since 1986.

"People want to win and we aren't winning and people feel I didn't do a well enough job to get the job done and they want to give someone else a shot," he said.

Rix is being replaced against Wake Forest by Adrian McPherson, who rallied FSU for two late touchdowns in Saturday's 34-24 loss. Rix struggled much of the day and had two turnovers that led to 10 Irish points.

Center Antoine Mirambeau has voiced criticism of Rix's decisions about when to run or throw, and after Saturday's loss the dissatisfaction boiled over with players shouting at each other.

"I know a lot of people were frustrated," Rix said. "I was frustrated. But I think people should look in the mirror and see what they are doing before they start judging other people because I know one word has not come out of my mouth criticizing a player on either side of the ball. If someone plays a perfect game then they can start talking about other people.

"This whole situation is something I really can't control," Rix said. "I played as hard as I could. I feel like I played my heart out on Saturday. Things didn't go as we wanted, but in my opinion, I've got nothing to hang my head about."

-- JASON SCHNEIDER

Graham playing injured

GAINESVILLE -- Florida tailback Earnest Graham has been playing with a left ankle injury he sustained during the Sept. 21 game at Tennessee.

As the season has progressed, Graham has had fewer carries. However, he said it is not because of his injury and has no intentions of sitting out.

Last season, when he missed games against Auburn and Tennessee because of injuries, Florida suffered its only losses.

"I've got to play no matter what," he said.

"Up to this week, it was pretty bad, but the off week helped a lot," Graham said.

Free safety Todd Johnson (thigh bruise) participated in drills and ran, and defensive end Marcus Oquendo-Johnson (ankle) was able to run.

MOTIVATION: Quarterback Rex Grossman compared this week's game against undefeated Georgia to when Florida was predicted to lose at Tennessee, a top-five opponent at the time.

"It's very similar," Grossman said of the underdog role. "It's a huge opportunity for us to beat the No. 5 team in the nation and stay in the SEC East. We're looking forward to it."

-- JILL MARTIN

Bulls focus on momentum

TAMPA -- The team begins a three-game homestand Saturday against Division I-AA Charleston Southern, and to get ready, coach Jim Leavitt put the Bulls through a two-hour practice.

"It's a team that we should beat, but I go into every game expecting to win," Leavitt said. "It's important for our guys to play with discipline and to play hard and to get back some of the momentum which we had after three wins in a row and before we had the off week."

Leavitt said several players are questionable because of injuries carried over from the 46-30 win at East Carolina. They include Kevin Verpaele, Sidney Simpson, Matt Groelinger, Tavares Jurineack and Huey Whittaker.

BACK IN THE FOLD: Sophomore receiver Brian Fisher didn't travel to East Carolina for academic reasons but will play Saturday.

ADD IT UP: Three more Bulls were added to the Florida roster for the Jan. 25 Gridiron Classic in Orlando, the fifth annual all-star game pitting seniors from Florida against seniors from the rest of the nation. Joining Marquel Blackwell, Chris Daley, Kawika Mitchell and Greg Walls, who were named earlier this month, are defensive tackle Jurineack, receiver/returner DeAndrew Rubin and cornerback Maurice Tucker. Receiver Hugh Smith is an alternate. The seven players would be the most any team has had on a Gridiron Classic roster.

-- PETE YOUNG

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