By Times wire and staff report
© St. Petersburg Times
published December 31, 2001
MIAMI -- With questions about their performance against Tennessee being asked four weeks after the game, Florida defensive players are getting ... . well, defensive.
Asked on Sunday about what happened in the Dec. 1 loss and whether the problems had been corrected, defensive end Alex Brown snapped: "I thought we were playing Maryland, that's who I thought we were playing. I thought we played Tennessee a while ago. I'm getting tired of all the questions about Tennessee, that game is over and done with."
"Good answer," cornerback Lito Sheppard chimed in under his breath.
Maryland's players have become media darlings because of their candid answers and genuine excitement. The Gators are gaining a reputation as a team that's bitter about not being in Pasadena.
"If that's the way they feel, so be it," ex-Gainesville High standout and Terps safety Rod Littles said. "But they are here, they have to play us and they need to deal with it."
FRIENDLY ADVICE: Florida safety Marquand Manuel said he has counseled Sheppard about whether to turn pro early because he was in a similar situation. Manuel, a senior from Miami, said he went to the NFL advisory board last season and was told he would be drafted between the second and third rounds. He stayed for his senior year. "I told him (Sheppard) you have to feel like you've done everything you came here to do," Manuel said. "If you do, so be it."
BERLIN TO STAY?: Brock Berlin said two weeks ago that he planned to transfer, but coach Steve Spurrier said Friday the decision isn't set in stone, and Berlin's roommate, safety Todd Johnson, said the backup quarterback is considering staying at Florida.
ELLIS TO PLAY: Defensive end Kennard Ellis practiced Sunday and is expected to participate in about 20 plays, defensive coordinator Jon Hoke said. Ellis had knee surgery before the Tennessee game. Tailback Willie Green did not practice because of a pulled hamstring and Spurrier said his play likely will be limited.
DON'T FORGET THE CART: The Gators brought two trucks full of equipment -- and Spurrier's golf cart. Spurrier uses the cart, which has Gator logos on both sides and gold rims, to maneuver around the practice field. He began using it after back surgery before the 2000 season.
TERPS HURTS: Left guard Todd Wike is doubtful and the Terrapins are making plans to replace injured safety Tony Jackson. Wike missed Sunday's practice with a sprained right ankle, leaving his string of 32 consecutive starts in jeopardy. Wike would be replaced by freshman Kyle Schmidt, who would be making his first college start. Jackson, who has a sprained left ankle, participated in some drills. Jackson insists he will play, but coach Ralph Friedgen is talking about moving starting cornerback Dennard Wilson to safety and starting senior Tony Okanlawon at cornerback.
-- ANTONYA ENGLISH, TIMES WIRES