Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Offense Amiss; Grossman Tosses 4 INTs in Defeat

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Offense Amiss; Grossman Tosses 4 INTs in Defeat

Article excerpt

Byline: Michael DiRocco, Times-Union sports writer

********************CORRECTION October 10, 2002

Florida tight end Aaron Walker was the Gator being hurdled by Ole Miss' Matt Grier in a photo on Page C-1 Sunday. Because of incorrect information provided by Knight-Tribune News Service, Walker was misidentified in the photo caption.

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OXFORD, Miss. -- Taylor Jacobs' jaw dropped, and his eyes widened slightly -- a classic look of disbelief, surprise and shock.

Then he shook his head, leaned over, and blew out a long breath.

"Man," the Florida wide receiver said, "I had no idea."

Taylor was reacting to a question about Florida's offense, which annually ranks among the best in the nation but yesterday against Ole Miss was just rank. Did Jacobs ever think it would be possible for the Gators to go more than a quarter without a first down? To have just 13 yards on six possessions?

"I guess I didn't realize that," Jacobs said. "The team just wasn't on today."

Florida's offense wasn't, anyway, and it cost the sixth-ranked Gators. UF's Rex Grossman threw four interceptions and his team's offense managed just 300 yards in losing 17-14 to Ole Miss in front of a record crowd of 61,140 at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

The last time they had such a poor offensive performance came against Auburn last season -- they gained 328 yards in a game they also lost on the road to an unranked opponent.

Yesterday's loss, though, was more upsetting because UF's offense struggled against a defense that had given up 80 points and 773 yards in its last two games. The Rebels (4-1, 2-0 SEC) scored a defensive touchdown, a safety and blocked a field goal to beat UF in Oxford for the first time since 1935.

"People had gotten after [the Mississippi] defense the last couple of weeks," UF coach Ron Zook said. "They had their backs against the wall the last few weeks and finally got tired of hearing about it.

"I'm not going to chastise the [Gators'] offense. Did we play very well on offense? No we didn't. But we didn't play very well on special teams last week and we didn't chastise them. We didn't play very well on defense in the Miami game and we didn't chastise them. This offense is a good offense."

UF took a 14-2 lead on a pair of Grossman-to-Carlos Perez touchdown passes. There were opportunities for more points -- Matt Leach's 36-yard field goal attempt was low and was blocked -- and Grossman gave Ole Miss a safety when he was penalized for intentional grounding from his end zone. The play went awry after Grossman dropped the shotgun snap, bobbled it again and was hit as he threw.

UF's offense gained just 13 yards on six third-quarter possessions, and Grossman completed only 2-of-10 passes for minus-2 yards under a heavy pass rush. …

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