- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 27, 2002

It was a wet and nasty day meant for Gators. Luckily, there were a few around.
The Florida reunion tour began yesterday as the Washington Redskins opened a three-day minicamp. With former Florida coach Steve Spurrier and most of his staff plus quarterback Danny Wuerffel and three former Gators receivers, the new East Coast offense didn't seem too foreign in its pro debut.
When returning receiver Rod Gardner missed an audible, Spurrier and receiver Jacquez Green quickly jumped on him. It seemed everyone but Gardner, the only prominent receiver back from last year, already knew the scheme. After all, Chris Doering, Reidel Anthony, Green and Wuerffel thrived in the "Fun 'N' Gun" at Florida. They've since scattered to mixed pro careers, but the reunion saw the quartet practice like they never left Spurrier's system.
"[Wuerffel] didn't accidentally throw for all those touchdowns and all those yards. Reidel didn't catch 18 touchdown passes accidentally," Spurrier said of their Florida careers. "These guys can play. What happened in the past I don't know. It doesn't matter."
Spurrier and his Gators were defensive over the new coach acquiring former players. However, predecessors Norv Turner and Marty Schottenheimer also brought players from their former teams.
"It's natural any time a coach goes to a new place that he gets some of the guys he's worked [with] before," Wuerffel said. "Coach Spurrier has just such a high profile that people notice. … Every player can only hope to be in a place where the coach believes in you and knows what you can do."
Said Doering: "Everybody has been critical of [Spurrier] in the past and he proves people wrong. People say we haven't had success in the NFL. That just motivates us more."
Wuerffel benefits most from the reunion. Spurrier has grown weary of defending his 1996 Heisman Trophy winner, saying he's willing to open the season with Wuerffel starting. But even Wuerffel admitted he didn't know who's his leading competition. Washington is still considering a trade for Chicago quarterback Shane Matthews, another Florida alumnus.
Wuerffel created a few divots with low throws, but also regularly knew where receivers were supposed to be despite joking that his old teammates' new numbers confused him. Then again, Wuerffel switched numbers before the second session, becoming the first Redskin to wear No.7 since quarterback Joe Theismann retired in 1985. For someone who barely played the last two seasons, Wuerffel seemed comfortable.
"[My careers] been up and down. I talk about my career like the sine or cosine curve. That's what life is like," he said. "I'm a much better football player than I was five years ago."
Said Green of Wuerffel: "Danny has a lot more zip on his ball than in college. He has a lot more velocity."
Spurrier worked from the entire playbook, determined not to repeat the same play. That kept the defense loose as Green caught a sharp crossing pattern in front of cornerback Champ Bailey while Doering grabbed a few deep balls. However, cornerback Fred Smoot ran back an interception.
"I believe you give players a whole bunch of stuff so you don't get bored," Spurrier said. "Even if they make mistakes you correct it. It seems so many teams run two plays all day and players get bored. Players learned it fairly well."
Spurrier seemed satisfied with the first day. He believes the preseason is too long and offseason camps shouldn't be overkill. Mostly, it was a chance for a good first impression by players and coaches.
"If opening day was tomorrow we'd be able to go play," Spurrier said. "I don't know how well we'd do, but we have enough ballplayers that we could play. That's how simple this offense is."


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