Florida free safety Will White, who leads the nation in interceptions with six this season, was mysteriously absent from Saturday's game against Akron. Gators coach Steve Spurrier later explained that White was suspended for "disciplinary problems" and his suspension was effective only for Saturday's game. Spurrier would not comment on what the problems involved, but said they were related to team rules.
"He'll be back for the Auburn game," Spurrier said. "It was just several little things that built up."
Grow gets praise from Spurrier
Free safety Monty Grow, a 1989 graduate of Citrus High School in Inverness, took White's place. It was Grow's first start while at Florida.
Grow made four tackles and one assist Saturday against the Zips, the most of any Gators defensive player. Spurrier said he was pleased with how Grow filled in for White.
"Monty had some big hits today when they were trying to throw the ball," Spurrier said.
McClendon has first 100-yard game
Tailback Willie McClendon, who has switched off with Errict Rhett for the starting job all season, rushed for more than 100 yards Saturday for the first time in his career at Florida. McClendon carried 18 times for 105 yards.
McClendon also was Florida's second-best receiver Saturday with four catches for 51 yards and one touchdown off a 15-yard pass from Shane Matthews in the third quarter.
UF passing totals continue to climb
Matthews' three first-half touchdown passes improved the Gators' total for the season to 13, the same number thrown in 1988 and '89 combined. The Gators also surpassed their entire '89 passing output (1,628 yards in 11 games) before the first half of their seventh game ended Saturday.
Neal Anderson, Emmitt show up
Among the alumni returning for UF's 67th annual homecoming celebration were two ex-Gators now starring in the National Football League. Chicago Bears running back Neal Anderson presented a fully endowed women's tennis scholarship to the university in memory of his mother, Dorothy, who passed away in 1987 after a long bout with Hodgkin's Disease. Also on the sidelines was Dallas rookie Emmitt Smith, who left UF early for the NFL. Anderson's Bears are idle this weekend and Smith's Cowboys visit Tampa Bay today.
Akron hasn't had much luck with SEC
This was the first meeting between Florida and Akron. The Zips played Southeastern Conference schools in the past two seasons, losing 42-0 to Auburn in 1988 and 52-9 to Tennessee in 1989. This is the 13th UF team to start 6-1. Only the 1928 and 1966 teams opened 7-0.
Florida is idle next week and will host Auburn on Nov. 3.
_ TIM BUCKLEY and SHARON GINN