Originally created 09/24/98

College football notes

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The season is still young, but not too young for at least one statistic to look downright ugly for Florida.

The Gators sit at No. 112 -- otherwise known as dead last -- in turnover ratio among Division I-A teams.

They lost the ball five times and produced only one turnover in last week's 20-17 loss against Tennessee. They have a minus-10 turnover ratio for the season, a stat that has even coach Steve Spurrier baffled.

"I don't know what to do about it," Spurrier said. "We haven't had this problem until this year. You've got to protect the ball from oncoming traffic. But when you catch it and act like nobody's there, then bang, there it goes splattering out."

The turnover problem also placed the Gators (2-1, 0-1 SEC) in last place in another area -- the SEC East -- and left them more worried about fundamentals than preparing for Kentucky.

"I really don't know what it is," quarterback Jesse Palmer said. "We really can't point a finger at anybody. It's just a matter of holding onto the football. It's something we need to take more pride in."

Through three games, the Gators have fumbled 13 times and lost 10. On defense, they've only recovered one of five fumbles.

"If we learned anything from the game it's that we can't play very sloppy ball and expect to win," Spurrier said. "With all the mental errors and turnovers and we still almost win. So, if we can eliminate it ..."

And if they can't, their shot at regaining the SEC title will fade away completely. Floirda is 3-3 over its last six SEC games, dating to last season. In the three losses, the Gators have committed 14 turnovers.

HARDEMAN SITS AGAIN: Texas A&M fullback D'Andre Hardeman will remain suspended for Saturday's game against North Texas while school officials try to determine his eligibility.

Athletic director Wally Goff declined to say Tuesday what Hardeman's case involved. He said university officials were looking into the case and Hardeman would be sidelined until the issue is resolved.

Coach R.C. Slocum suspended Hardeman before Saturday's 24-6 victory over Southern Mississippi.

"We have a situation we are looking into that affects one of our student athletes and until we get in all the data, we will have no other comment," Goff said.

ROCKY TOP DAMAGE: Fans did an estimated $25,000 damage to Neyland Stadium after Tennessee's 20-17 overtime win against Florida.

Both goal posts were torn down and about 50 yards of fence at the bottom of the stadium was destroyed when fans rushed the field. Two sections of seats near the bottom of the stadium were bent and damaged.

More than 100 divots were dug up on the field for fans to take home as souvenirs.

"The win was worth far more than any cost involved," Vols AD Doug Dickey said.

QUOTING: "I felt like they played us dirty, a lot of cheap shots, a lot of going for knees, late hits. You can see it on video. It just was rampant in that game. It's just too bad. ... I think they wanted to do more than just win. They were dirty. When guys are coming at you two or three seconds after the plays and going for your knees, they're trying to ruin your career. We were very, very upset." -- UCLA quarterback Cade McNown after the Bruins beat Houston 42-24 and had two players injured, including wide receiver Freddie Mitchell, who is out for the season with a broken leg.

NO HEISMAN HYPE: Even with Donovan McNabb making a run at the Heisman Trophy, Syracuse coach Paul Pasqualoni could care less about the hype surrounding the award.

Early in the third quarter of Saturday's 70-14 win over Rutgers, McNabb engineered the last of seven touchdowns by the first-team offense, then took the rest of the afternoon off. He finished the day a modest 8 of 12 for 119 yards and a TD.

Asked about finding a happy medium between managing a blowout and McNabb's numbers, Pasqualoni shot back: "We're a little more concerned with playing players who deserve to play. When you get in games like Saturday and you're up by a large score and you get a chance to play the next quarterback who has to take over, that's a far bigger priority than how many times he throws it, who catches it, who scores. That stuff doesn't help you win."

But what about the Heisman?

"I don't know how you correlate leaving a guy in a game with the score 56-0 and winning the Heisman Trophy," Pasqualoni said. "If you can explain how that helps you win the Heisman Trophy, I'd like to hear it. If Don plays well and if the team plays well and we're able to put together an unbelievable year, a great year, then Don at the end of November will certainly be a high candidate for the Heisman Trophy."

EXTRA POINTS: Virginia Tech quarterback Al Clark has a sprained right foot and won't play in Saturday's game against Pittsburgh. Neither will two other Hokies -- fullback Cullen Hawkins (left foot injury) and guard Josh Redding (knee injury). Dave Meyer, a redshirt sophomore, steps in for Clark, who threw the winning TD pass in Tech's 27-20 overtime against Miami. ... Northern Iowa quarterback Todd Goebbel has left the team after sustaining the fifth concussion of his career in a game against McNeese State on Sept. 12. Goebbel, who transferred from Kent last winter, had two concussions at the Ohio school, and two others playing in high school. ... Attention Heisman Trophy voters: NC State plans to hype wide receiver Torry Holt for the award by sending either a poster or postcard to more than 800 Heisman voters. Holt has 23 catches for 462 and four TD, plus a punt return for a score that helped the Wolfpack upset Florida State 24-7 on Sept. 12. ... With No. 9 Washington at No. 2 Nebraska on Saturday, this can't be said enough: The last team to beat the Huskers in Lincoln were the Huskies, who won 36-21 on Sept. 21, 1991. The home winning streak stands at 44 in a row. ... Florida cornerback Tony George was thought to be out for a few weeks with a sprained knee, but could return to practice this week and play against Kentucky.


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