Spurrier says today's game will not determine the starter for the opener.
By JOANNE KORTH
© St. Petersburg Times, published April 7, 2001
GAINESVILLE -- Florida fans itching to get a head start on the 2001 season should use today's Orange and Blue game to beat the rush in naming a quarterback.
Which looks better?
Rex-and-Brock or Brock-and-Rex.
If the past four seasons are any indication, the names of quarterbacks Rex Grossman and Brock Berlin will be used in hybrid fashion many, many times in 2001.
Today is just the start.
The annual intrasquad game marks the conclusion of spring drills, but is merely the beginning of a quarterback battle that will be the most analyzed, scrutinized and talked-about aspect of UF's preseason.
Grossman will quarterback the Blue team, Berlin the Orange.
"Hopefully both of them can get a lot smarter," coach Steve Spurrier said. "Quarterbacking is about making smart decisions and making bad plays (into) good plays. We're not at that level now. If we're going to pitch it 40 or 50 times a game, we have to find some way to get there."
Grossman should have the edge.
Last season, he became the first UF freshman to receive first-team All-SEC honors and the only freshman named MVP of the SEC Championship Game. He started the final eight games, completing 131 of 212 for 1,866 yards and 21 touchdowns with seven interceptions.
His 161.52 pass efficiency rating was best in the SEC and third nationally, the third-best rating in NCAA history for a freshman. His 21 touchdown passes were second in the SEC to former UF Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel's 22 as a freshman in 1993.
But, apparently, those accomplishments were not enough to secure the starting job for 2001. Why not? Because of Berlin, the national offensive player of the year as a high school senior in 1999. Spurrier has likened Berlin to Wuerffel, the last UF quarterback to start an entire season, which he did as a senior in 1996.
Berlin played in just four games last season, completing 17 of 27 for 170 yards with two touchdowns and one interception, but Spurrier is giving him every opportunity to win the job for 2001.
Though fans can pick a favorite after today's game, Spurrier said he will not pick a starter until fall.
Grossman, who missed the first week of spring drills because Spurrier was disappointed in his academic effort, said he has improved since the Gators' 37-20 loss to Miami Jan. 2 in the Sugar Bowl.
"I definitely picked up a few things," Grossman said. "With time, you can see different scenarios, you become a better quarterback. Hopefully, I got a little smarter this spring."
Spurrier is not so sure.
"Quarterback play has been decent," Spurrier said. "Brock has made a lot of strides. I don't know how much Rex has made. He's been here one year longer."
And the debate begins.
WHEN/WHERE: Noon today; Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Gainesville.
FORMAT: Players are divided into two evenly matched teams. The first half will consist of two 15-minute quarters with traditional scoring and rules. Based on the flow of the half, coach Steve Spurrier will decide at halftime whether to use a running clock in the second half. Spurrier, defensive coordinator Jon Hoke and assistants Dwayne Dixon and Ricky Hunley will work with both teams. -- Compiled by Joanne Korth.