By Times staff writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published November 28, 2002
It has been rough going for the Gators at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee. Florida hasn't been able to earn a win at Florida State's home field since 1988, giving FSU a 6-0-1 record.
Since 1990, the team that has rushed for more yards is 12-1-1 in the series.
Speaking of rough times, the last time Florida coach Ron Zook was at Doak Campbell Stadium, he was an assistant with the Gators in 1994 -- the year of the infamous "Choke at Doak."
Florida led 31-3 at halftime, then allowed the Seminoles to rally for a 31-31 tie.
Ask Zook about it and the memory comes rushing back quickly.
"What I remember is coming in at halftime and, any time you are playing an offense (like FSU) -- they are a very explosive offense and an offense that can do a lot of things -- you always worry about complacency. Because I really believe when you talk about two teams and a game of this magnitude, there is a very, very small percentage of difference in emotions. If you don't come out 100 percent in the second half the same way, the tide can turn.
"Obviously the offense struggled and didn't get first downs. They were moving the ball and the more they moved it and the less our offense moved it the more the crowd got into it and the momentum began to swing. It turned into being what was kind of a win for them and really a loss for us."
Florida opened the week preparing for two quarterbacks, unsure of whether Adrian McPherson or Chris Rix would start.
McPherson's sudden dismissal from the team means the Gators now have only one quarterback to focus on, but the coaching staff insists Rix is just as much of an offensive threat.
"I don't think it's going to change our preparation at all," defensive coordinator John Thompson said. "Their offense was the same when either one of them was in there. And Rix is a very good quarterback."
A key matchup will be quarterback Rex Grossman against the Seminoles' oft-maligned secondary unit. After throwing 14 interceptions in the first eight games, Grossman has not thrown an interception in three of the past four games and is averaging 252 passing yards.
FSU compiled just 177 total yards of offense against N.C. State last week. The Seminoles are averaging 217 passing yards per game, while Florida has the nation's third-best pass defense, allowing just 145.3 yards per game.
Most likely, none of that will matter. According to the coaches and players, this game always comes down to pride and sheer will to win.
"All this could blow up in my face, I understand that. But I'm willing to take that chance. It's that important." -- RON ZOOK
On the uproar created by his gag order on players this week and how it will be viewed if the Gators don't win.
He began the season as a third-string walk-on, but the redshirt sophomore from Orlando has found a place for himself in the Gators offense. After tight end Ben Troupe was injured in the Vanderbilt game, Carpenter stepped in. He caught his first pass of the season against the Commodores (8 yards), then caught his first career touchdown one week later against South Carolina, where he had two receptions for 19 yards. He has seen action in six games, including the kickoff return team.
Zook said Carpenter epitomizes the concept of team player.
"He has come in and done a great job," Zook said. "We talked about that in the very beginning when we got together: Fellas, it's going to take everyone in this room, everyone is important in this room, whether you are on the scout team or whether we have injuries and you get moved up. You never know when your opportunity is going to come and you have to be prepared to play when that opportunity does. And I think Darrell has done that."
-- Compiled by Antonya English
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