Zook says no talking
Published: Tuesday, November 26, 2002 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, November 26, 2002 at 12:49 a.m.
There won't be any bold predictions coming out of Florida offensive guard Shannon Snell this week. And Earnest Graham and his offensive teammates aren't going to be promising revenge on Florida State defensive tackle Darnell Dockett. And no one is going to hear Rex Grossman's take on what could be his final regular-season game at UF.
Nobody's talking this week.
Because they can't.
The Florida players have been placed under a gag order by UF coach Ron Zook, who seems determined to keep his players from being distracted by all the outside stuff that goes on in this rivalry - especially this week, with UF set to face Dockett, who injured Graham last season, and FSU quarterback Adrian McPherson being dismissed from the team Monday.
"I want our players focused on this football game," Zook said Monday. "I don't want any other information to be focused on. I want them to focus on this football game and that's the way they're going to do it. I don't want the other things involved.
"Obviously, I can't please everybody. It's not a radical thing; it happens all the time. That's what I'm going to do and that's the way it's going to be."
UF players are off limits to the media - including, Zook said, ABC-TV, which is televising Saturday night's game - all week. Today's weekly media gathering will feature only Zook's news conference. UF's assistant coaches also will be available after practice throughout the week.
Zook said he decided on the media ban last week. He said he had considered doing it before a couple of other big games this season, but decided not to.
Ohio State coach Jim Tressel kept most of his players from the media last week in Columbus leading up to the Michigan game and the Buckeyes prevailed over their biggest rival.
This is the first time in memory that UF football players have been placed under a gag order the week before a game.
UF athletic director Jeremy Foley said he stands behind his coach's decision.
"It's a coach's prerogative," Foley said. "He wants the guys to focus on what is a huge game for us. It's not going to be a future trend. It's not going to be the norm around here."
The biggest possible distraction this week is the Dockett-Graham incident from last season. Former UF coach Steve Spurrier accused Dockett of deliberately injuring Graham (sprained knee) during a pile-up in the second half and Graham considered a lawsuit. Spurrier also showed a video tape of Dockett appearing to try and stomp on Grossman's hand at the end of a play.
Spurrier continued to talk about Dockett's behavior the following week leading up to the Tennessee game, which the Gators lost at home, costing UF the SEC's Eastern Division title and the chance to possibly play in the national title game.
Zook did not want his players being asked about the Dockett situation this week.
"I don't think it's something that needs to be revisited," Zook said.
Zook said the gag order does not stem from anything any of his players might have said to the media before other big games this season. The Tuesday before the Georgia game, Snell predicted the Gators would beat the Bulldogs in Jacksonville.
"I don't think Shannon Snell said anything he shouldn't have said and I told the team that," Zook said. "I would be concerned if a player didn't expect to win. He made a statement and you guys (the media) make it national news, not Shannon Snell. He said what he felt and believed and what his teammates felt and believed."
In other news Monday, standout wide receiver Taylor Jacobs practiced at full speed and he's on schedule to play in Saturday night's game.
"He looked awesome out there today," Zook said. "He went through everything but team. He went through seven-on-seven against the defense and ran routes. He's got Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday to go yet, but I was impressed."
Jacobs missed the last three games after spraining his knee in the opening minutes of the Georgia game.
Defensive tackle Ian Scott, who underwent arthroscopic knee surgery a week ago, also practiced at full speed and will play in Saturday night's game.
Tight end Ben Troupe, who sustained a high ankle sprain against Georgia and missed the last two games, remains day-to-day.
"Ben didn't do a whole lot," Zook said. "He was running. I think it's 50-50 with Ben. He'll be close. I don't feel quite as confident about him as I do Taylor and Ian."
You can reach Robbie Andreu by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 374-5022.
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