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QB rotation looks more likely

By JOANNE KORTH and DEBI JONES

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 1, 2000


STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Four plays: three quarterbacks.

Florida coach Steve Spurrier returned to his rotating quarterback system when the coach played all three of his quarterbacks in four plays. And the system may remain in place during the coming weeks.

"Rex (Grossman) and Brock (Berlin) -- they're our two quarterbacks (with Jesse Palmer injured). We may need to rotate them," Spurrier said. "Being able to coach them up between plays may be beneficial."

After an injured Palmer left, the drive characterized the day as freshman Berlin entered with 6 minutes, 21 seconds left in the first quarter.

Spurrier replaced Berlin two plays later with redshirt freshman Grossman on third down, and senior Palmer returned for fourth down.

"I taped it up a couple of ways and tried to come back in, but I couldn't get the push off I needed to make the throws," Palmer said. "My foot got numb, I taped it up so hard. I couldn't feel the ground."

After missing a few days of practice this week with a hip pointer, Palmer sprained his right ankle on a safety and did not return during the second half.

"It looks like his ankle is going to keep him out awhile," Spurrier said.

Palmer's injury gave the Gators' two younger quarterbacks more playing time and a chance to gain some experience they may need in the coming weeks."

Although Palmer said he should be able to rehab his ankle and be ready, Grossman and Berlin likely will rotate if he is out, Spurrier said.

The freshmen will have to get used to the rotation system as they rotated in and out for the entire second half on Saturday, sporadically changing places during drives.

"I knew he was going to rotate Brock and I," Grossman said. "I'm not sure what he was thinking. He was trying to make some decisions."

UNRANKED OPPONENTS: The loss is UF's first to an unranked team under Spurrier, snapping a nation's-best 72-game winning streak. Gary Darnell coached Florida in its 1989 Freedom Bowl loss to Washington.

HOMEFIELD ADVANTAGE: The Bulldogs have beaten the past three ranked opponents to enter Scott Field. Then 10th-ranked Louisiana State was the last ranked team to beat MSU at home, Sept. 13, 1997.

The Bulldogs' home winning streak is 13.

FIRST ACTION: With injuries to middle linebackers Andra Davis and Travis Carroll, true freshman Reid Fleming saw his first playing time. Fleming became the 15th true freshman to play for the Gators this season. He made five unassisted tackles.

Wide receiver Matt Jackson, middle linebacker Travis Harris and defensive end Clint Mitchell made their first career starts.

FIRST MEETING SINCE '93: Florida and Mississippi State met for the first time since 1993 in Gainesville, when the Gators defeated the Bulldogs 38-24. The last time the two teams met in Starkville, Miss., in 1992, Florida lost 30-6.

ETC.: Defensive lineman Ian Scott (sprained left ankle) left during the third quarter after he was blocked illegally. Scott did not return and needed crutches and a temporary cast. ... Florida was 0-for-4 on fourth down.

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