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Spurrier ire directed at fourth-down conversions

By JOANNE KORTH

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 25, 2000


GAINESVILLE -- Florida coach Steve Spurrier still wasn't happy with his defense after reviewing the tape of Saturday's 59-31 victory against Kentucky, but he had isolated the problem.

Fourth down.

The Wildcats converted six of their seven fourth-down plays -- four of five in the second half -- in racking up more than 500 yards. As a result, Kentucky had possession for 38 minutes, 44 seconds.

"(Defensive coordinator) Jon Hoke said he learned a new term," Spurrier said. "He'd been saying, "Three-and-out, three-and-out.' But when you play Kentucky it's "four-and-out.' "

Trailing by three touchdowns at halftime, Kentucky took risks most teams would not. Five of its fourth-down attempts came near midfield, including fourth and 7 at the UF 48. It also converted fourth and 4 at its 36.

The Wildcats picked up 44 yards on fourth down, and three touchdown drives were sustained by conversions.

Feeling little pressure from the Gators' front line, freshman quarterback Jared Lorenzen completed 4 of 5 for 32 yards and one touchdown working from the shotgun. He also converted a 1-yard sneak.

For the game, Lorenzen was 35 of 59 for 363 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions.

"If we stop them half the time on those fourth downs they probably don't make as many yards," Spurrier said. "Our defense probably wasn't near as bad as the final stats show."

Spurrier wants more pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Lorenzen was sacked once.

"We've got to keep the quarterback in the pocket," Spurrier said. "If he had only had two or three seconds we would have had an excellent day defensively. But it turned into a scramble play and he found guys and hit them. That's what keeps drives alive."

FREE TO SPEAK: Spurrier said he will lift the media ban imposed last week upon several star players, including quarterback Jesse Palmer and defensive end Alex Brown, though he liked the results.

"It worked pretty well for a few of them," Spurrier said. "I think our effort was pretty good. We'll lift it for the players we want to show up. No ban anymore."

Of the eight players "benched" from the media last week, only Palmer answered questions Saturday. He was 12-for-19 for 190 yards and one touchdown and rushed for a UF record-tying four scores.

TAILBACK MOVES: Sophomore Earnest Graham, who rushed for 128 yards, including a seasonlong 57-yard touchdown, will start against Mississippi State on Saturday.

INJURY UPDATE: Linebacker Travis Carroll (sprained knee) will not require surgery and should return in two or three weeks. Wide receiver Alex Willis (sprained ankle) and tackle Kenyatta Walker (sprained ankle) likely will return this week.

Four score (several years ago)

Lorenzo Hampton, Neal Anderson, John L. Williams, Emmitt Smith and Errict Rhett were superstar backs at Florida, but none rushed for as many touchdowns in a game as UF quarterback Jesse Palmer. Here are the four Gators who have four rushing TDs in a game:

(Yr., Player, Game, Result)

'00 -- Jesse Palmer -- Kentucky -- W, 59-31

'97 -- Fred Taylor Florida State -- W, 32-29

'28 -- Tommy Owens Mercer -- W, 73-0

'15 -- Rammy Ramsdell at Mercer -- W, 34-7

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