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Sheppard flashes two-way ability


© St. Petersburg Times, published November 5, 2000

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Lito Sheppard has the moves for offense, but apparently he doesn't have the stomach.

Making his offensive debut, the Florida cornerback caught a quick slant and made four defenders miss on his way to a 47-yard gain to the Vanderbilt 12. Finally tackled, Sheppard landed on the ball.

Shortly after, he made is way to the sideline and threw up.

"I fell on the ball and it made my stomach hurt a little bit," Sheppard said. "I went to sideline and threw up a couple of times. I felt better after that."

The idea of Sheppard making an offensive debut started as a joke between the sophomore and coach Steve Spurrier.

Saturday, it wasn't a joke.

"Lito can make them miss, that's for sure," Spurrier said. "If we can find a way to get him the ball out in open space, that's what we need to do."

After the Gators beat Georgia Oct. 28, Sheppard began practicing a little on the offensive side of the ball.

Sheppard said he didn't think the play would work as well as it did in practice because they only practiced the play a few times.

Spurrier tried to keep the move a secret most of the week, then asked Sheppard before the game if he was ready.

Most thought Spurrier would wait until the South Carolina or Florida State game to preview the new player -- including Sheppard.

"I guess he wanted to see how it was going to work," Sheppard said.

NO HARD FEELINGS: Spurrier excommunicated several former players who admitted taking money from agents during their UF careers, among them Tennessee Titans defensive end Jevon Kearse. But Kearse was on the Gators' sideline Saturday.

Spurrier said Kearse was supposed to call athletic director Jeremy Foley to apologize.

"It's hard for me to get real mad at those guys after all they did for this program," Spurrier said. "They do need to say, "I made a bad mistake.' Then we'll let them stand on the sidelines."

GAFFNEY STREAKING: UF freshman receiver Jabar Gaffney had seven catches for 101 yards, his fifth consecutive 100-yard game. The school-record of six is shared by Darrell Jackson (1999) and Carlos Alvarez (1969). Gaffney also has at least one touchdown catch in seven consecutive games.

STEPPING UP: UF sophomore Reche Caldwell, from Tampa Jefferson, had his first 100-yard receiving game with five catches for 102 yards and one touchdown. His longest catch was a 47-yarder in the first quarter.

GOOD THINGS COME IN THREES: Florida kicker Jeff Chandler became the school's career leader in field goals with his 30-yarder in the first quarter. He kicked two in the second for a career total of 46. Bobby Raymond (1983-84) and Brian Clark (1979-81) made 43.

MILESTONE DAY: Vanderbilt running back Jared McGrath, a senior from Ocala, became the Commodores' sixth 2,000-yard rusher, picking up 42 yards for a career total of 2,030. Kicker Tim Markham, who kicked two field goals and two extra points, became the school's all-time leading scorer with 195 points.

GOOD SEATS AVAILABLE: Florida fans made up one-fourth of the crowd at Vanderbilt Stadium. Attendance was announced at 32,714, nearly 9,000 less than capacity.

INJURY UPDATE: Tackle Mike Pearson left the in the second half after rolling his ankle and did not return. He said he expected to play this week. ... Tackle Kenyatta Walker (stomach virus) saw limited action but is expected to be healthy this week. ... Defensive tackle Buck Gurley spent most of the afternoon on the sideline with ice on his back.

EXTRA POINTS: UF won for the 10th straight time and leads the series 23-9-2. ... Vanderbilt honored 12 seniors in their home finale. ... UF has won at least six SEC games in 11 consecutive seasons. The previous record was six by Alabama from 1961-66. ... Country music artist Chad Brock sang the national anthem.

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