Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Johnson, Spurrier at Odds Coach Still Questions His QB's Commitment

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Johnson, Spurrier at Odds Coach Still Questions His QB's Commitment

Article excerpt

GAINESVILLE -- He sat behind the table at his usual weekly news

conference, answering unusual questions concerning the Florida

Gators' recent funk.

Less than a month ago, the Gators were the nation's topranked

team and looking hopefully toward a third consecutive national

championship game. But for the first time since he returned to

coach his alma mater in 1990, Steve Spurrier was talking about

regrouping and not playing for a championship of any kind.

"We'll try to get some fun back in the game," Spurrier said.

"Seems like our players haven't had much fun -- except maybe on

Thursday nights."

The room erupted with laughter. Spurrier never cracked a smile.

The "Thursday nights" comment was a reference to sophomore

quarterback Doug Johnson's now infamous curfew violation on the

Thursday night before Florida left for Baton Rouge to play LSU.

Johnson stayed out with friends, past curfew, and was later

suspended for a game by Spurrier.

Although the coach hasn't said so, that incident, more than

anything, may be the core of Florida's recent fall. The Gators

(6-2 overall, 4-2 Southeastern Conference) are now simply trying

to hang on in the middle of an eroding season and a full-blown

quarterback controversy.

Five games into the season, the Gators and Johnson were

unbeaten and cruising. Since then, Florida has lost as many SEC

games (two) as it had in the previous four seasons, and it has

been a struggle just to score points.

"A lot of things went on the last three weeks of my life,"

Johnson said last night after practice. "Who knows? Maybe that

had something to do with it, caused things to stop clicking. Too

much is being made of this. People will look back next year

around this time and not even remember this."

But Johnson's problems, Spurrier says, are more than the curfew

violation. Two weeks ago, he said Johnson hadn't "endeared

himself to his teammates all that much," by violating curfew. …

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