- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 1, 2002

It was only the preseason, but more than a few of his new lodge brothers can't wait for a chance to knock the smirk off Steve Spurrier's face.
Here's why: Spurrier won't make the racket look harder than it is. He won't even pretend. Asked the other night how his transition to the NFL was going, the 57-year-old rookie didn't have to think long or hard.
"We're 4-0," Spurrier said. "That's the only answer I know."
This is one guy who comes by his arrogance honestly.
Spurrier won football games at Duke, after all, and among the five million or so reasons he cited for taking the Redskins job last January was to find out if his teams could play pitch and catch in the pros the way they did in college.
Last season, the Redskins ranked 28th in scoring (averaging 16 points per game, 28th in total offense (277 yards) and 30th in passing (155 yards; about what Spurrier's sophomore quarterback, Rex Grossman, averaged by halftime).
After last Saturday's win at Tampa Bay, Spurrier's Redskins were averaging 37 points per game, almost 400 yards total offense and 340 yards passing.
"We're happy with the win," he said, "but it's not that big a deal. It's just a practice game."
Maybe so, but this is one of those cases where you learn more from watching than listening.
In his first "practice" game, against the 49ers in Japan at the start of the month, Spurrier was calling pass plays in the last two minutes as if his team desperately needed two scores to win. The Redskins were ahead by 24 at the time.
In the team's game against Tampa Bay, he called a flea-flicker, then a reverse in the fourth quarter against the Bucs. The Redskins were up by 16 at the time.
Spurrier is never shy about running up the score, which he did often and with impunity at Florida as his teams won 122 of 150 games and a national championship. That alone would earn him a spot on most NFL coaches' enemies list.
But he didn't quit there. Spurrier teased workaholic coaches who fall asleep on their office sofas watching game film, and mocked the control freaks by delegating almost everything to his assistants except the play-calling. But what really unnerved the workaholics and control freaks who spent hours breaking down Spurrier's Fun 'n' Gun schemes, expecting to find mysteries, was that they failed to come up with any.
Redskins wide receiver Chris Doering could have told them that. He played for Spurrier at Florida and could wind up logging lots of time in Washington.
"It's not real special, really," he said. "We just take chances. We throw the ball down the field a lot."
It's not quite that simple. Spurrier's real genius as a coach is the same thing that won him the Heisman Trophy as a college quarterback. He can look over a defense just before the snap of the ball and intuitively see where the seams and gaps will develop.
As a college coach, he called audibles by relaying hand signals from the sideline to a relatively untested 20-year-old with all kinds of distractions on his mind. In the NFL, he will be talking via walkie-talkie directly to a veteran with a headset built into his helmet.
To Spurrier, it almost seems unfair. It's like putting the old quarterback's head, now 30 years wiser, back in the game atop a new body.
And yet fairness might be what finally convinced Spurrier to accept the challenge of the pros.
Jim Litke
ASSOCIATED PRESS

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