Coach Steve Spurrier tried everything to get his Fun 'n' Gun offense on track Saturday. He yanked QB Doug Johnson in favor of Noah Brindise. Then he pulled Brindise and put Johnson back in. Finally, he gave freshman Jesse Palmer a shot. But nothing changed.
The Gator QBs combined for 19-of-44 passing and four interceptions. They failed to throw a touch-down for the second time in the past three games, leaving even more questions about the quarterback situation. Spurrier said he probably will name a starter for Saturday's game against Vanderbilt today.
"Doug was not all that bad," he said. "We should have caught some of those passes we didn't catch. Our protection was not as good at times as we would have hoped. It was just a combination of everyone on offense not playing as well as we're capable."
After Saturday's 37-17 loss to Georgia, Spurrier said he probably would go with "one of the younger guys" at quarterback, meaning Brindise, a fifth-year senior, will be relegated to a backup role.
Johnson and Palmer will battle for the starting job this week, but Spurrier said only time will tell if Johnson can continue to play baseball in the Devil Rays organization during the summer and become a successful quarterback.
"It's certainly something we've got to address," Spurrier said. "I don't think there's any other college quarterback that plays baseball all summer. I'm not saying that it can't be done, but it hasn't been proven that it can be done either."
INJURY UPDATE: An MRI revealed torn cartilage in junior LB Mike Peterson's right knee, Spurrier said. "What really hurt our defense was (Peterson) going out and (backup LB) Keith Kelsey bumming up his shoulder last week. Daryl Owens had to play about the whole game, and he played about like a redshirt freshman."
ANOTHER CHANCE: Sophomore OT Pat Browning's first career start was short-lived as he was benched in favor of Zach Piller in the first half. Spurrier said, however, the coaching staff may have replaced the Tampa Jesuit graduate too soon.
"Certainly Pat deserves a better chance," Spurrier said. "Look for him to come back to the starting lineup sometime."
_ MARK LONG