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Gators seek cure for ailing offense

The pairing of No. 7 Florida and No. 18 Syracuse is expected to produce offensive fireworks, but the Gators need to find some spark if they hope to light it up.

In their last outing, the Gators fizzled.

"We need to mix it up," Florida coach Steve Spurrier said. "We hope to run it and we hope to throw it and we need to play some offense if we're going to have a chance."

In its last game _ a 23-12 loss at Florida State that cost the Gators a shot at the national championship _ Florida had just 204 yards of total offense, its lowest output of the season.

"It was bad," senior wide receiver Travis McGriff said. "It's terrible to watch that game on tape. I'm not going to talk about it."

Against the Seminoles, the Gators had 17 yards rushing on 20 carries, were 0-for-13 on third-down conversions and were shut out in the second half. Their 12 points marked the third-lowest total in Spurrier's nine seasons at UF.

"We're disappointed with the way we played against FSU," Spurrier said. "We pooped out up there. We were a little embarrassed."

Partly to blame was Florida's dismal running attack, which averaged 115.8 yards to rank 10th in the Southeastern Conference and 95th nationally. In the Gators' two losses _ at Tennessee and at FSU _ Florida gained 4 yards in 50 attempts. That's 2.9 per carry.

"It's been a combination of things," said senior tailback Terry Jackson, who will play tonight at full strength for the first time since severely spraining an ankle against LSU on Oct. 10. "It's the running backs, the blocking, what the defenses were doing. There's no one thing you can point to."

Spurrier practically guaranteed junior quarterback Doug Johnson would have a better game than he did against the Seminoles, when he was 13-for-36 with three interceptions. The threat of a running game would help.

"It's a big mystery," Johnson said. "We know we can run the ball. We've got the players to run the ball. I hope they play well this game."

FRAZIER IMPROVING: Sophomore FB Rod Frazier, who missed the final three games of the season with a knee injury, expects to play on special teams, but is not sure if he'll be in the backfield.

"It's improving day by day, but it's not 100 percent yet," Frazier said of an MCL sprain that required rest, not surgery, to heal. "Right now it's more of a mental thing. I need to go out there and get that first hit and see how it feels."

GHOSTS: The last time Florida played in Orange Bowl stadium, it lost 31-4 to Miami in 1987. Two bad snaps led to UF safeties in the last meeting between the schools. In 1985, then-No. 5 Florida beat quarterback Vinny Testaverde 35-23.

GOOCH ELIGIBLE: RB Vanez Gooch, who transferred from Florida State in January, is eligible to play. NCAA rules require transfers to sit out two semesters, and Gooch's second semester at UF ended two weeks ago. He has two years of eligibility.