- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 10, 2002

Washington Redskins coach Steve Spurrier will receive a hero's homecoming at Alltel Stadium today. The former Florida coach may even have half the crowd on his side when his team faces the Jacksonville Jaguars, and nothing would please Gator Nation more than watching the Ball Coach's "pitch and catch" offense that once dominated college football.
That is, if the Redskins can rediscover the Fun 'n' Gun, which suddenly has become a run-oriented scheme. Running back Stephen Davis will miss his second straight game with a sprained knee, but Washington has run more than it has passed in three consecutive games. Even Spurrier isn't sure whether one of his teams has done that so regularly.
Jacksonville (3-5) is 26th against the run, and Washington (4-4) needs to win its third straight to keep its playoff hopes alive headed into several NFC East showdowns. Running back Kenny Watson will seek his second straight 100-yard game as Washington expects to continue its balanced offense.
"The [past two opponents] struggled to stop the run, so it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out run the ball," quarterback Shane Matthews said.
Washington will activate six receivers against Jacksonville, one more than usual. Spurrier's fans could be treated to another of his downfield days from when he was the Gators boss.
"My favorite formation is five wide receivers and no backs because you spread teams out and see what they're doing defensively," Matthews said. "I can see the bullets coming so easily."
But Matthews is coming off two lackluster games in which he failed to complete half his passes. Spurrier was disturbed when Matthews completed just 10 passes though two were for touchdowns in the 14-3 victory over Seattle last Sunday. Such uneven play sent Matthews to the bench once already this season, but Spurrier seems more patient after watching uneven performances by backups Danny Wuerffel and Patrick Ramsey.
Matthews countered that the team's dramatic dropoff in turnovers and sacks offsets the lower completion percentage. Ramsey was sacked 13 times and committed eight turnovers in two losses, while Matthews was sacked just twice and turned it over once in the two victories that followed.
"I'd like to play better, but we haven't really been turning the ball over and killing our defense," Matthews said. "If I went out there and threw for 300, 400 yards and we lost, nobody would be happy. The bottom line is nobody is going to even remember what happened there."
Matthews is among a large number of former Gators, Jaguars and Jacksonville natives who hope to make it a memorable afternoon. They expect the 72,000 fans to be divided. For instance, wide receiver Rod Gardner got 70 tickets, and cornerback Champ Bailey needed 30 for friends and family.
"I've had this marked on the calendar for some time," receiver Chris Doering said. "It's a chance to play before one of the more friendly crowds on the road."
Said Bailey: "You figure [the Jaguars will] have 50,000 and we'll have the rest."
Spurrier's return to North Florida has touched off an unusual rivalry between two teams that mean little to each other. Washington has won both meetings against the 1995 expansion team, but the Redskins seldom spent the preceding week talking tough about an AFC opponent.
Conversely, the Jaguars have openly resented having to compete with the Redskins for their own fans. Spurrier spent the week downplaying that, though his mother, Marjorie Spurrier, said the Jaguars wouldn't have to give away tickets to games had they hired her son. Spurrier said his schedule yesterday was too crowded to meet friends.
"I've got plenty of time in the offseason to go down there and see some buddies," Spurrier said.
Certainly, one homecoming won't be pleasant. Doering hopes to cross Jacksonville coach Tom Coughlin. Doering's 1996 release after being taken in the sixth round of the draft by Jacksonville has long bothered him.
"Any time a coaching staff tells you're not good enough, that's motivation," Doering said. "I was pretty miserable being there anyway. I'm looking forward to proving I'm better than they think I am."

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