Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Who Are the Real Gators? So Far, They're Anyone's Guess

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Who Are the Real Gators? So Far, They're Anyone's Guess

Article excerpt

Byline: Gene Frenette, Times-Union sports writer

OXFORD, Miss. -- I'm not sure if you could assemble Sigmund Freud, Dr. Joyce Brothers and all the world's renowned analytical minds, permitting them unlimited access to Florida's football team, that they could figure out the enigma that is the 2002 Gators.

Halfway through Ron Zook's first season, the mystery deepens.

Just where are the Gators headed? And why can't Florida seem to get the three major phases of its team going in the same direction?

In the Miami and Ohio games, the Gators' run defense looked like a sieve. Then UF nearly lost to Kentucky with breakdown after breakdown on special teams.

Now comes the mother of all unexplainable results -- Mississippi 17, Florida 14.

The 25-point loss to Miami at home and the surprisingly easy victory at Tennessee made it hard enough to figure out these Gators. But losing to the Rebels, especially the total disappearance of UF's offense in the second half against a suspect Ole Miss defense, is a legitimate pause for soul-searching.

"I'm really at a loss for words about that," wide receiver Taylor Jacobs said.

Rex Grossman, who likely saw his Heisman Trophy candidacy wither away with a safety and four interceptions that led to all of Mississippi's points, had an equally difficult time shedding light on how a prolific offense could suddenly forget how to move the chains.

"Our offense in the second half did not do a damn thing," Grossman said. "We got into a slump, I don't know how to explain it. Right now, it's kind of a blur."

It was one of the most mind-boggling collapses of a UF offense, not too unlike that 34-7 meltdown in the 1999 SEC Championship against Alabama. Except for one thing: the Gators seemingly had this game under control.

Grossman marched them 98 yards just before halftime to take a 14-2 lead. …

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