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Thursday August 9, 2001Spurrier Addresses 165 at Annual UF Media Day

Gainesville, FL

The University of Florida football team hosted its annual media day on Thursday at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, an event that attracted about 165 people. Here are some exerpts from head coach Steve Spurrier's press conference.

ON BEING RANKED NUMBER ONE IN PRESEASON…
"I said before and again we aren't as good as a lot of people believe we are at this point. I called Bobby Stoops the other day and said I must be a better politician and campaigner because I got all the voters to vote for me in the first poll. Oklahoma went all the way down to three. I don't know what we did so great in the off season. But we'll take it, and it's nice to be preseason #1 in the coaches' poll, and it's good publicity all over the country. I know we'll be number one for a month until we play again. Hopefully, we don't vote again until after September 1st because they might change their minds. We do have a lot of good players and we do have a chance for a big year if a lot of things come together. Last year, I think the experts picked Georgia to win the Eastern Division and they picked Alabama to win the SEC, and neither one of those occurred. Predictions are just a guess by sportswriters, coaches, whoever."

ON FLORIDA'S 2001 SCHEDULE…
"The home schedule helps a bit. Mississippi State and Marshall are two outstanding football teams also. Everyone just thinks about Tennessee and FSU, and those two teams are very tough and very talented. I think Mississippi State has actually won more games on the Western Division side than anyone else since 1992, and we get them here in the Swamp this year. They were the only team that beat us in the conference last year."

ON THE SEASON OPENER AGAINST MARSHALL…
"Marshall has won their conference for four straight years, and they are used to winning. Their coach is going to come down here to beat us. He's not going to come to pick up his paycheck and go home. That's the first real big game of the season. It will be a challenge for us."

ON THE STARTING QUARTERBACK POSITION…
"A few questions marks about not knowing who the quarterback is going to be. We'll let [Brock Berlin and Rex Grossman] fight it out during preseason, and we'll announce a starter the week of the [Marshall] game. If he is good enough to stay healthy and play well, he'll have a chance. If he's struggling and gets hurt, we feel like we have a couple guys available to play. Again, we'll just play it out. We're not set in stone, where as some coaches say 'he's the starter until he gets hurt,' but we treat quarterbacks like every other position. You are the starter as long as you are playing well. That's just the way we do it, and we've been pretty fortunate and have had a lot of success playing a couple quarterbacks that won conference championships. I think last year Jesse [Palmer] played in four wins and Rex played in four wins."

ON DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR JON HOKE…
"Jon Hoke is going into his third year as coordinator and I think he's better at it. I think he's going to be smarter and I think our team is going to play a little smarter. But until we do it, it's all thinking."

ON THE DEATH OF ERASTE AUTIN…
"Eraste was a wonderful young man and mainly our freshman players got to know him real well, bond together, and have that chemistry amongst the freshmen. He'll be missed by all who got to know him. But obviously when a tragedy occurs, there is a time to grieve, which hopefully we did it the right way and handled it as well as we could have. You keep his memory alive, which we certainly are, and we talk about Eraste every other day or so with the freshmen and try to draw a little bit from him being here. We try to move on and continue trying to make the best year possible, which is what any person would want to happen if we are not here anymore. It was a tough deal, and it was a strange set of circumstances."

ON NEW INSIDE LINEBACKERS COACH JERRY ODOM…
"Jerry brings a lot of fireball enthusiasm, and he's an awfully good coach too. I know he is excited to be here, and Jerry has always dreamed about coaching here. I think he is going to be an outstanding young coach for us, and he'll also be involved with a lot of special teams. I think he is charge of kick-off coverage right now, so we think Jerry will be a good one."

ON FLORIDA'S RUNNING GAME…
"Hopefully we'll get a chance to run the ball better this year and more often. As most of you know, we had the ball for fewer minutes than most teams in the SEC."

ON FLORIDA'S RECEIVERS…
"This could be a good group. Reche Caldwell came into his own about midseason last year, and of course Jabar Gaffney grew and developed into a big-time receiver. I feel good about those two guys. Taylor Jacobs is a young man that hopefully is about ready to come into his own, but he hasn't quite done it yet. Those three players really bring speed, hands, and potentially can be three really outstanding guys."

ON FLORIDA'S TIGHT ENDS…
"Aaron Walker had a really good solid year, and I think he's physically better. Benny Troupe was a freshman last year who didn't play much that has a lot of talent. He could be a big-time tight end. [Ben] is a lot stronger than he was as a freshman and he could play a lot this year also."

ON HEAT RELATED DEATHS IN FOOTBALL…
"I think we are more careful now than any other time. If it is extremely hot, we'll practice at night. We've done that in the past. Amazingly, we don't have as many scorching days down here in August than a lot of teams up north do. I'm sure every coach, if he has any sense at all, is going to be more careful. We all have to be extremely careful all the time now that we all know what can happen. Why it all started happening this year, I don't know. It's hard to figure."

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