Rotation nothing new at Florida

Published: Friday, November 1, 2002 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, November 1, 2002 at 1:34 a.m.

From a Florida perspective, there is nothing new or novel about this idea of a rotating/alternating/switching quarterback system.

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Florida's Rex Grossman, bottom, may be the most heralded quarterback in Saturday's game, but the attention isn't solely focused on him. Grossman's backup, Ingle Martin, top center, figures to play in some series.

Photo by DOUG FINGER/The Gainesville Sun

Switching quarterbacks in the middle of games. Alternating quarterbacks every series. Alternating quarterbacks every play... we've seen it all.

Under Steve Spurrier, the Gators did it all, especially in the second half of his 12-year coaching career at UF, when his intolerance for imperfect quarterback play became more prevalent.

But the way the Gators are doing it now, well, it is a little different than what it was under Spurrier.

Spurrier's quarterbacks were virtually the same - pure dropback passers who read defenses, stood in the pocket and delivered. The offense - and the offensive philosophy - didn't change with a quarterback change.

It's totally different two-quarterback concept now under new offensive coordinator Ed Zaunbrecher.

As the Gators showed in their win over Auburn two weeks ago, they have two distinctly different quarterbacks and two distinctly different offensive philosophies they can throw at opposing defenses depending on who's in the game and what the defense is willing to give.

There's Rex Grossman, the pure, dropback passer in the Spurrier mold.

Then there's Ingle Martin, the athletic quarterback who can run the option - and run.

That one-two quarterback flurry kept Auburn's defense off balance enough to get the offense rolling again.

"It's tough on a defense when you're going against a passing quarterback and then a running quarterback comes in the game," offensive guard Shannon Snell said. "It's a totally different mind set. Ingle brings another dimension to our offense."

Said Grossman: "It just allows you to change the style of defense a team is playing against you. Any time you make a defense change what they're doing, it can screw them up. Teams have to change things up when Ingle comes into the game."

The Georgia Bulldogs certainly can relate to all this because they have a two-quarterback system of their own, one that has worked to perfection at times during this perfect (8-0) season.

Like the Gators, the 'Dogs have the pure dropback passer - sophomore David Greene. And the quick, athletic quarterback who can hurt a defense with his arm and his running ability - redshirt freshman D.J. Shockley.

Greene and Shockley were both unstoppable this past Saturday, sharing the snaps and leading the 'Dogs to a a 52-24 rout of Kentucky in Lexington.

The Gators will get plenty of doses of both in Jacksonville on Saturday night.

"They've got a two-headed monster at quarterback," UF defensive

coordinator John Thompson said. "Both those guys are executing real well.

David Greene is exceptionally accurate and throws on time. Then they bring Shockley in and he really makes you defend the whole field. You really have to have all your bases covered."

There's no doubt the Gators have to prepare for both quarterbacks - and will see both.

The 'Dogs also will prepare for both UF quarterbacks, but there's a good chance they'll only see one - Grossman.

Although Martin's presence in the Auburn game threw a serious change-up at the Tigers, he may be relegated to just punting against the 'Dogs. He played against Auburn for two reasons - Grossman had a sprained knee and the coaches want to keep him fresh for the end of the game, and the AU defense had shown it was susceptible to the option and a running quarterback.

With Grossman back to close 100 percent, the 'Dogs may be the only team deploying the two-quarterback system Saturday.

"Every game is different, every matchup is different," Zaunbrecher said. "Playing Rex and Ingle was a good change-up against Auburn, given the situation we were in with Rex's health and Ingle's ability to run some things Rex can't if he's not healthy. We wanted to keep Rex fresh for the end of that game and things worked out for us.

"But it won't be the same every week (with the two-quarterback system)."

Conversely, the 'Dogs seem set on playing two quarterbacks regardless of the situation.

That's put extra pressure on the Florida defense this week to get ready for two quarterbacks with very different styles and ability.

"Greene and Shockley are both very talented guys who can make things happen," UF coach Ron Zook said. "One guy (Shockley) you have to worry about containing him when you rush him because he can get out of the pocket and go. Then you have one guy (Greene) who stands back there and threads the needle.

"Both have shown they can run the offense and score points. I was very impressed with the way Shockley came in (against Kentucky) and took command. (Georgia coach) Mark Richt did a nice job when he inserted him. Their team doesn't miss a beat when they alternate quarterbacks. It's definitely a big test for our defense."

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