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Quarterback problem? Spurrier doesn't see it


© St. Petersburg Times, published September 11, 2000

GAINESVILLE -- For all the people who spent Sunday afternoon pondering Florida's quarterback situation, Steve Spurrier apparently was not one of them.

Asked when he would name a starter -- senior Jesse Palmer or freshman Rex Grossman -- for Saturday's game at Tennessee, Spurrier said there was no rush.

"Oh, I hadn't really thought about it," the Gators coach said. "If we need two quarterbacks, that's what we'll do. We don't have to name one until the first play. It's not a big deal."

Spurrier was even more vague about what Palmer, the Gators' most experienced quarterback, did to warrant losing the full-time job during Saturday's 55-0 victory against Middle Tennessee State.

For the season, Palmer is 36-for-69 for 520 with four touchdowns and no interceptions. But his timing has been off on deep routes and he does not always read defenses correctly.

With UF leading 24-0 late in the second quarter, Spurrier pulled Palmer in mid-drive after he failed to see an open man on a post route.

"I'm not going to get into all that," Spurrier said of Palmer's mistakes. "I'm not the expert. We don't have experts. We just have coaches who are trying to get the most out of our players.

"They're all doing well; we're trying to get them to play a little better. We'll coach them up and we don't need to put it in the newspaper."

Grossman, a redshirt freshman, played deep into the third quarter with the first string, an opportunity backups rarely get. He was 9 of 14 for 95 yards with three touchdowns and one interception.

"We were way ahead at halftime so I told him to keep on playing," Spurrier said. "Jesse had a chance to play a lot and in all likelihood he'll have the chance to play a lot more. I just felt we needed to give Rex a chance to play with the first team."

FAST START, SLOW FINISH: Spurrier did not have an explanation for Florida's pattern the first two games of scoring on its first two possessions, then bogging down on offense.

"Usually the second quarter has been our best quarter in years past," he said. "Usually, we're fidgety to start, make some errant throws, then settle in and throw a couple touchdowns in the second quarter.

"That used to be our routine."

INJURY REPORT: Florida is healthy, Spurrier said. Tailback Robert Gillespie is expected to play after sitting out Saturday with a sprained toe.

Two players injured against Middle Tennessee State -- cornerback Lito Sheppard (sprained elbow) and defensive tackle Derrick Chambers (sprained ankle) -- should be fine by Saturday, Spurrier said.

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