Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Florida Notebook

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Florida Notebook

Article excerpt

Byline: Michael DiRocco, Times-Union sports writer

EMPHASIZING THE RUN

Florida will run the ball more in Ed Zaunbrecher's offense than it did under Steve Spurrier, and that has the running backs and offensive linemen very happy.

And bordering on arrogant.

"We're going to run the ball and you've got to stop us now," LG Shannon Snell said yesterday as the Gators prepared for Saturday's season opener against UAB at Florida Field. "Last year we were more committed to passing the ball and doing that drop-back thing. [QB] Rex [Grossman] is going to do his thing, of course, but Earnest [Graham] is also going to get his yards. Last year, I don't think we were committed to the run.

"Last year coach Spurrier was like, 'We're going to throw the ball and set it up for the run.' You kind of want to set the run up and then throw the ball."

It may not be as easy as it sounds on Saturday. The Blazers led the nation in rush defense last season (57.3 yards per game) and have not allowed a 100-yard rusher in 25 games (Louisville's Frank Moreau, Oct. 30, 1999). The Gators' young offensive line has noted that, and is using it for motivation.

"It's a challenge that sits in the back of our minds," LT Max Starks said. "They haven't had a 100-yard rusher in two years, so that's making a statement about their defense. For us, as an offensive line that people have questioned this season, it would prove a point if we could go out there and accomplish one of our goals and have over 100 yards rushing with one guy."

JOHNSON PRACTICES

FS Todd Johnson practiced yesterday for the first time since being knocked unconscious during a scrimmage last Wednesday. He has still not been cleared for contact, and his status for Saturday's opener is still uncertain.

"I think it's pretty much day-to-day," said Johnson, who was cleared to resume practicing after an early afternoon doctor's examination. …

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