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NATIONAL INSIDER

Florida back to playing daily double

October 28, 2006|Peter Yoon

The quarterback-by-committee approach at Florida officially became controversial two weeks ago when the Gators lost to Auburn in a key Southeastern Conference game.

Freshman Tim Tebow, who had been effective in running situations the previous three weeks, played only four downs in that 27-17 loss, and senior starter Chris Leak fumbled on a third-and-three play from the Auburn six-yard line, then had a pass intercepted to start the next possession.

Gators fans had booed Leak in previous games but had nothing to complain about because entering the Auburn game Florida was unbeaten and ranked No. 2 in the nation.

Now there is plenty to gripe about in Gator country, and Florida Coach Urban Meyer said Tebow would probably get more playing time today against Georgia.

"We're certainly going to do anything we need to do to have success," Meyer said.

The Gators, 6-1 overall, 4-1 in the SEC, need a victory to stay atop the East Division and move a step closer to returning to the conference title game for the first time since 2000.

Leak and Tebow said they are happy to share time at quarterback, as long as Florida comes out on top.

"I think we're both just worried about winning and trying to help the team out," Tebow said. "I'm happy for him when does good, and it's vice-versa too. We're just trying to win."

Fighting for respect

Florida International plays today for the first time since its brawl against Miami two weeks ago.

The Golden Panthers are 0-7 and have indefinitely suspended 16 players -- including nine starters -- for their actions in the brawl. Two others were kicked off the team.

FIU is among only four winless Division I-A teams. So what is their plan against Alabama, a 35 1/2 -point favorite?

"To shock the world after what happened," linebacker Antwan Barnes said. "We'll be on ESPN for a good reason this time, not a bad one."

To serve and punish

The 13 Miami football players who were suspended for their roles in that brawl will also participate in several new community initiatives as part of their punishment.

All but one of the players were given one-game suspensions, which were served against Duke last weekend, and the players are eligible for today's game at Georgia Tech.

The community-service-type programs for the Miami players will include:

* The development of a sportsmanship program with the 30 high schools in the Greater Miami Athletic Conference.

* "Meaningful, ongoing" work with a charity of each player's choosing.

* After-school visits with South Florida youth to tutor and discuss values such as sportsmanship and behavior.

* Added work with the Miami-Dade County police's "Join a Team, Not a Gang" program, including visits with youngsters.

* Involvement in other outreach programs, including ones with the homeless.

Enemy territory

Texas is 33-6 in road games since Mack Brown took over as coach in 1998, but that doesn't mean the No. 5 Longhorns are looking forward to their trip to Texas Tech today.

Two of those six losses came in Lubbock.

Not only that, but during Brown's tenure the Longhorns have lost to unranked opponents on the road only three times. Two of them were against the Red Raiders.

In 2002, the last time Texas played at Texas Tech with a top-10 ranking, the Red Raiders stunned the then-No. 4 Longhorns, 42-38, when Kliff Klingsbury threw six touchdown passes to knock Texas out of the national championship picture.

"They'll be pumped, it will be cold, it will be loud, they won't like us very much," Brown said.

Texas quarterback Colt McCoy knows all about this rivalry. He grew up near Abilene, about halfway between Austin and Lubbock.

"Any time Texas comes to Texas Tech it's a big deal," he said. "I have a lot of friends that go there and they just said, 'It's going to be loud and you just better be ready.' So I was just like, 'Well I'm going to be ready.' "

Opposites attract

Today's meeting between No. 19 Oklahoma and No. 23 Missouri matches defenses headed in different directions.

Oklahoma gave up nearly 400 yards a game in its first three games but has limited opponents to 170 a game since and has not given up a touchdown in seven consecutive quarters.

"I said it earlier in the year, we weren't far off," Oklahoma Coach Bob Stoops said.

"What we've done lately -- we haven't given up those big plays, we've been more consistent and been in a better position more often."

Missouri, meanwhile, had the No. 1 defense in the nation after four games, giving up an average of only 175 yards a game. In their last four, however, the Tigers have given up an average of 389.25.

Draddy finalists

Florida quarterback Leak, Penn State linebacker Paul Posluszny and Wisconsin offensive lineman Joe Thomas are among the 17 finalists for the Draddy Trophy, given by the National Football Foundation to a senior with outstanding football ability, a grade-point average of at least 3.0 and strong leadership and citizenship skills.

The 17 players were selected from all divisions of college football and make up the 2006 National Scholar-Athlete Class. Each of them receives an $18,000 scholarship for graduate studies.

The winner, to be announced Dec. 5, will have his scholarship increased to $25,000.

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Compiled by Peter Yoon. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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