Saturday September 29, 2001Football Shuts out #21 Mississippi State 52-0
Rex Grossman and Reche Caldwell celebrate one of their two TD connections.
Grossman (pictured) threw for a career-high 393 yards - his fourth straight 300 yard passing game, a new school record. He also scored the game's first touchdown on a quarterback sneak from one yard out. The sophomore from Bloomington, Indiana said it was great to knock off the Bulldogs after the beating they took in Starkville.
"It was a complete turnaround," said Grossman in the postgame lockerroom. "The feeling I had last year was just terrible, and I think everyone remembered that and we had a great motivational speech from (linebackers) coach Jerry Odom before the game."
Jabar Gaffney caught nine passes for 159 yards while Reche Caldwell caught five passes for 101 yards and two touchdowns. Taylor Jacobs, Aaron Walker and Kelvin Kight were also on the receiving end of touchdown passes. Grossman said it was great for the offense and the defense to match performances. "It was one of those times that the defense stuffed 'em and we had a lot of good plays on. We just executed great."
After allowing 351 yards rushing in last year's loss in Starkville, the Gator defense shutdown the Mississippi State running game. The Bulldogs rushed 28 times for just 44 yards. Dontae Walker, who rushed for 156 yards against the Gators last season, was held to just 19 yards on 10 carries this time around.
"The defensive line had a great game", said defensive end Kenard Ellis, who had two tackles for losses and a quarterback sack. "We were firing off the ball and getting hits on the quarterback. The goose egg was sweet." The Gators registered four sacks on the day, recovered a fumble and had an interception by linebacker Matt Farrior in the fourth quarter.
The shutout was the first against an SEC opponent for the Gators since 1996 when they beat Kentucky 65-0 and the first against a ranked opponent since beating #15 Tennessee, 31-0, at Neyland Stadium. The 640 yards of total offense was the sixth highest total in school history and the most against an SEC opponent. As dominating as the performance was, Florida head coach Steve Spurrier warned his players not to get too high with a game at LSU looming next week.
"It was a good win, but it's just one win. We can't get too excited. I tried to tell our guys we don't get nothing extra for beating them 52 to nothing."
Florida improves to 4-0 overall and 2-0 in the SEC. Mississippi State drops to 1-2 and 0-2 in league play. The Gators will visit LSU next Saturday October 6th in Baton Rouge. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. eastern time. The game will be televised by CBS.