- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 3, 2002

MIAMI Steve Spurrier said Tuesday that sometimes he couldn't tell the difference between starting quarterback Rex Grossman and backup Brock Berlin in practice.
Well, that's in practice. There certainly was a difference last night in the Orange Bowl, which Berlin started because Grossman missed curfew Friday night. Grossman entered with 6:02 to go in the first half and Florida leading by four. He led the Gators to two touchdown drives to finish the half and four more to open the second.
"I don't think I felt any different," said Grossman, who added he didn't know if he would play in the game. "We just got on a roll, we made some plays and scored points pretty quickly."
In a 56-23 trouncing of the Terps, Grossman had a field day, riddling the Terps for 248 yards and four touchdowns in about two quarters of work as the Gators broke a nearly 50-year-old Orange Bowl record for total offense.
Spurrier had said he would give Berlin an "opportunity to play the game" as long as he played well but would not hesitate to insert Grossman one of three Florida regulars held out of the starting lineup for missing curfew if he sputtered. He more than made up for his tardiness.
Grossman's entry helped settle Florida and essentially put Florida back in control after Maryland cut into a 14-0 deficit. Grossman showed why he was voted AP player of the year and runner-up for the Heisman Trophy.
"Rex gave us a nice lift," Spurrier said. "Brock was struggling a little bit. Rex was really sharp he might have had his best game of the year."
Unlike Berlin, who threw two interceptions in six possessions, Grossman didn't try to force anything. He didn't hit the Terps with the downfield bombs the Gators have come to be known for. Instead, he took what the Terps gave him, often throwing underneath to receivers sitting in open spots; the longest of his 11 first-half completions was a 16-yard toss to Brian Haugabrook that set up Florida's fourth touchdown.
On that play, Jabar Gaffney caught a pass by outleaping cornerback Curome Cox, who was right in front of him and in position to make a play. Earlier in the drive, Cox had a would-be interception glance off his fingertips when he stepped in front of a pass intended for Gaffney.
Maryland defenders made the tackles in the first half but hardly got after Grossman in the pocket. The Terps couldn't generate the pressure they did against Berlin, and Grossman just picked them apart. Grossman quarterbacked the Gators for 5:07 of the first half and completed 11 of 14 passes for 125 yards and two touchdowns.
Berlin has looked into transferring to Miami, and after the game Florida fans chanted, "We want Brock!" Berlin responded in kind with smiles and waves. When asked if this was enough to make him stay, Berlin said, "Who knows?" However, a member of the Florida staff was seen postgame wishing Berlin good luck.
After Maryland missed a field goal, Spurrier called for Grossman. Grossman overthrew Reche Caldwell down the left sideline on the first snap he took, just missing on a pass that would have provided a rousing entrance to the game.
Grossman dropped back to pass on eight of the next 10 plays and ended the 72-yard drive with a 15-yard TD pass to Taylor Jacobs. Jacobs might have finished the regular season as a decided third option to Gaffney and Caldwell, but in the first half alone he hauled in eight passes for 147 yards, both career highs.
"They did a lot of trash talking during the week, so we wanted to go out and prove we were the better team," Caldwell said. "They couldn't even come close to competing with us."
Jacobs, named the game's MVP, had 170 yards receiving with less than 12 minutes to play in the third quarter, which already was good for an Orange Bowl record. His 10 catches tied a record set by Michigan's David Terrell in last season's Orange Bowl. With 2:52 left in the third quarter, Florida had 567 yards of offense, a bowl record even for the Gators. They finished with 659, breaking Alabama's record set in the 1953 Orange Bowl.


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