Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

UF's Spurrier Running out of Buttons to Push

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

UF's Spurrier Running out of Buttons to Push

Article excerpt

GAINESVILLE -- The assistant coaches are frazzled.

The head coach is frustrated.

Many of the team's star players aren't permitted to talk to the media.

Just another week in the whacked-out world of your favorite dysfunctional national championship contender.

Starting quarterback Doug Johnson is headed for the bench. Former starting quarterback Jesse Palmer will start Saturday at South Carolina. Defensive coordinator Jon Hoke says, "We've not played as well as we would have liked." Head coach Steve Spurrier says his offense has been "horrible."

Did we make a wrong turn somewhere? Are we in Gainesville or Baton Rouge?

Or maybe we've mistakenly stepped into a time machine and traveled back to the paranoia of the 1980s. I mean, did somebody replace Spurrier's day planner with one left behind by Charley Pell?

"I just said I wasn't going to answer a whole bunch of dang questions, and ya'll keep asking them," Spurrier snapped yesterday when a reporter asked him about Palmer. "He's going to play this week, OK?"

Once so freewheeling and fun-loving, Spurrier has become conservative and cranky. For the second time this season, he's invoked a gag order on his quarterbacks. And he even says he's scared to pass the ball because bad things might happen.

There you have it: Steve Spurrier has become Woody Hayes.

Can you believe it -- Spurrier scared to pass the ball? That's like Pele scared to kick the ball, M.J. scared to shoot the ball, Bill Buckner scared to boot the ball.

Incredible. Only Spurrier can create chaos amid normalcy. The Gators are No. 4 in the nation. They are one victory away from clinching a spot in the Southeastern Conference championship game and three victories away from perhaps clinching a spot in the national-championship game. And they are having as much fun as a root-canal recipient.

The reason for Spurrier's frustration seems obvious: He doesn't think his quarterback and his offense are good enough to beat Florida State in two weeks. The fact is that UF's last four opponents -- LSU, Auburn, Georgia and Vanderbilt -- have all challenged the Gators into the fourth quarter. …

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