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Florida to End Two-Quarterback Plan

October 07, 1998|Associated Press

OK, now it's back to Plan A. Or was that Plan B?

The ever-changing quarterback situation at No. 6 Florida took another turn when Coach Steve Spurrier said he would scrap the rotation system he used for the last three games.

Sometime this week, he'll choose Doug Johnson or Jesse Palmer as the full-time guy for Saturday's game against No. 11 Louisiana State in Gainesville, Fla.

"Normally, the quarterback has to be the leader," Spurrier said. "You have to look to someone out there and usually it's the guy calling the plays, especially if you're going to throw the ball 40 times a game like we do. We're going to give the quarterback a chance to lead our team."

That pronouncement was a full turn from Spurrier's statement last week, when he said that whenever "you've got two guys close in ability, whether it's running back, left guard, tight end, quarterback, why not play them both?"

In Johnson and Palmer, Spurrier will choose between two quarterbacks who seem almost equal in physical attributes. Johnson is 6 foot 2, 215 pounds. Palmer is 6-2, 226. Both have strong enough arms to make any throw in the Florida game plan.

Johnson has completed 56% of his passes while Palmer is at 60%. Palmer has 13 touchdown passes to Johnson's five, but Palmer had 42 more attempts while Johnson was sitting out most of the first two games.

The biggest differences come in experience and attitude.

Johnson, a junior with a demeanor that reminds many on campus of a young Spurrier, played in the big games against LSU, Georgia and Florida State last season. Palmer, a sophomore with an addiction to the film room, has yet to play all the way through a game.

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Bobby Newcombe hasn't recovered from a partially torn knee ligament and backup Eric Crouch has a hip pointer as No. 2 Nebraska prepares to visit Texas A&M.

Coach Frank Solich said that a quarterback quandry isn't the best situation to be in before playing in College Station, Texas.

"You'd like to have your No. 1 guy ready to go. You'd like to have your No. 2 guy ready to go," Solich said. "We'll just see how that develops through the week."

Newcombe, injured in Nebraska's season-opening victory over Louisiana Tech, appeared at full strength when he returned for a defeat of Washington on Sept. 26.

But in Saturday's victory over Oklahoma State, Newcombe had only 22 rushing yards and was ineffective directing the option against the Cowboys' swarming defense. He credited the Cowboys but also blamed stiffness related to the ligament problem.

Against Oklahoma State, Newcombe also suffered what he called "a big gash" on his upper right thigh, apparently when cut by a helmet buckle. The cut required no stitches and wasn't considered serious.

Crouch, who led the Huskers to wins over Alabama-Birmingham and California when Newcombe was out, sustained a hip pointer after replacing Newcombe for a third-quarter series against Oklahoma State. The injury typically requires about three or four days' rest.

Nebraska's third-string quarterback is former walk-on Monte Christo, who threw touchdown passes against Alabama-Birmingham and California after Crouch left both games because of minor injuries.

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Colorado State running back Kevin McDougal suffered a hamstring injury in the Rams' victory over Texas-El paso and is not expected to play against Tulsa on Saturday.

Ram Coach Sonny Lubick said he doesn't expect running back Damon Washington, sidelined the past two weeks because of an ankle sprain, to play either.

Also questionable against Tulsa are linebackers Willie Taylor (hip pointer) and Rick Crowell (sore back).

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