Audible disaster, loss add to Zook's woes

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Rex Grossman surveyed the defense, called an audible, took the snap and threw for a touchdown -- to the wrong team.

It turned out that the audible, a little wiggle of the hand, means one thing under Florida offensive coordinator Ed Zaunbrecher's new system and another under Steve Spurrier's old one.

Or so the story goes.

Was it a simple mistake, or something more unseemly?

That's one of the big questions this week in Gainesville, and after a full round of interviews on Monday and Tuesday, it remains a mystery, mostly because all the key parties are giving conflicting explanations.

To refresh, the Gators had third-and-11 from their own 30 in the first quarter against LSU on Saturday, when Grossman made the audible and threw the pass right into the hands of Tigers cornerback Corey Webster. The 45-yard touchdown return gave LSU a 10-0 lead en route to a 36-7 victory.

Upon throwing the interception, Grossman immediately ran over to the intended receiver, Taylor Jacobs, and started berating him for going long, instead of curling back for a 12-yard pass.

Grossman claimed the audible meant one thing under Spurrier's offense and another under Zaunbrecher's, and the whole thing was an innocent crossing of signals.

"We have a form of the same signal," Grossman said. "It's one of those deals we need to start with a clean slate, no old signals. No confusion at all. That's definitely a play where that became a problem."

The quarterback admitted, however, that a number of times this year, he has caught himself calling the Spurrier audibles, and his teammates always got it.

"They knew what I was talking about," he said. "I just need to reprogram my mind. Everybody does."

There theories floating aroundto explain the interception, and among them is that Grossman intentionally called the Spurrier audible without coaches knowing.

Head coach Ron Zook did nothing to counter that theory Tuesday, saying only that "you have to be on the same page when you're making audibles and so forth." He would not give a straight answer when asked if the Spurrier hand signal was still among Florida's audibles.

All the confusion is adding to Zook's worries this week.

On Internet sites and on talk radio, there has been an outcry for Jeremy Foley to fire Zook. On Gatorcountry.com, a popular UF fan site, many are calling for Zook and Foley to be fired, and there's already speculation as to who the new head coach might be.

On Monday afternoon, Fireronzook.com was taking so many hits it was impossible to get on the site.

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