Gator News And World Report (10/24/04)

The Gator News and World Report for Sunday, October 24, 2004. 'EMBARRASSED'; Breakdown on punt stuns Zook; Anti-Zook Talk Grows As Struggles Continue; Embarrassing loss likely spells doom for Zook; Gators fall to SEC's doormats; Croom delivers power trip; Loss puts spotlight on UF head coach; Inconsistency becomes serious problem for Leak; Loss doesn't help Zook's and more...

Florida Gator Football

MISSISSIPPI STATE 38, FLORIDA 31: Gators can't explain upset at the hands of lowly Bulldogs

Run into the ground
Gators defense allows 149 rushing yards in 4th quarter to SEC's 3rd-worst backfield.

Breakdown on punt stuns Zook
Florida had done a solid job with its punt coverage all season, but had a big breakdown against Mississippi State on Saturday.

Stark Reality
As Ron Zook sat behind a bare wooden table inside a shoebox- sized room Saturday, the temperature rose as each question pinned him harder against the beige wall.

Anti-Zook Talk Grows As Struggles Continue
Florida's 38-31 loss Saturday against Mississippi State inspired venomous commentary throughout cyberspace.

Victory Gives Bulldogs Reason To Believe
They finally got it. Mississippi State coach Sylvester Croom has tried to drill the word ``belief'' into his players' heads. Against Florida, they understood what that meant.

Embarrassing loss likely spells doom for Zook
Maine is better than Florida. And we're not talking about lobster here. Maine is better than Florida in football. Maine beat Mississippi State in Starkville. Maine held MSU to seven points.

Gators fall to SEC's doormats
The goalpost in the north end zone crashed to the ground hard and fast, just like the Florida Gators had just done. And the cowbells ... they rang and rang and rang, the sweet sound of victory resonating across the Mississippi State campus Saturday afternoon.

Croom delivers power trip
Sylvester Croom is a Bear Bryant guy, so naturally he's all about blocking and tackling and lining up and smacking the opposition square in the mouth.

Letdown on return hurts UF
Throughout this up-and-down season, one phase of Florida's game has been pretty steady, pretty reliable. But in the 38-31 loss to Mississippi State, the last bastion of consistency folded.

Two TDs fail to ease pain
Chad Jackson's breakthrough season continued Saturday. He caught a pair of touchdown passes in the first half and finished with 65 yards in receptions.

Harris' warning unheeded
Fans rushing the field. A goalpost coming down. Cowbells ringing and the sounds of "Who Let the Dogs Out" blaring incessantly.

Loss puts spotlight on UF head coach
While the roar of victory echoed through this sleepy town Saturday afternoon, the questions about Florida's head coach got louder in the Gator Nation.

Boost for MSU
After an opening-game win, the season had turned dismal for Mississippi State. But five straight losses were erased on one overcast afternoon.

Quarter by quarter
1st quarter-KEY MOMENT: The game's opening drive. The Bulldogs went 71 yards on 12 plays and took 6:02 off the clock. QB Omarr Conner ran in from two yards out for the score. MSU converted a third-and-11, a third-and-9 and fourth-and-2 in the drive.

Gators suffer stunning setback
The inevitable question came from the corner of the crowded room, packed with Florida media who surrounded Florida coach Ron Zook like the rumors of his future surround him now -- in the wake of what is arguably the most embarrassing loss in Zook's tenure.

An unexpected failure
The Gators defense was coming off an effective performance the week before, but Mississippi State's previously hapless offense gave UF fits.

NCAA Football Boxscore - Florida at Miss State

Gators' jobs in jeopardy
The Gators not only lost 38-31 Saturday, some players might have lost their jobs.

UF goes down and out
Florida Coach Ron Zook, looking dumbfounded and disgusted, sat hunched over a table as he attempted to explain the disaster that just occurred.

Loss to Mississippi State may cost Zook his job
One Mississippi. Two Mississippi. Three Mississippi State. Time is nearly up on the Ron Zook coaching era at the University of Florida.

Inconsistency becomes serious problem for Leak
While Florida QB Chris Leak still remains among the top quarterbacks in the Southeastern Conference, his consistency has become a concern in recent weeks.

Defense facing shake-up
The videotape doesn't lie. Florida coach Ron Zook has a feeling it might tell him that it's time to make personnel changes after a 38-31 loss at Mississippi State. The Bulldogs were 24 1/2-point underdogs and losers of five straight.

Surprise beating stuns Zook's Gators
Ron Zook didn't just lose a game Saturday; he lost a piece — a big piece — of himself. The usually energetic Florida coach looked exhausted after his team's 38-31 collapse against 24 1/2-point underdog Mississippi State.

Take long last look, Zook
While he made his way through the bedlam here at Davis Wade Stadium -- while a crowd of 43,170 ran and jumped across this field to touch pieces of goal post being carried onto nearby Lee Boulevard -- Gators coach Ron Zook glanced over his shoulder toward the scoreboard as if hoping this was all a bad dream.

How low can Florida go?
Ba-Zook-a Joe: Mississippi State scores with 32 seconds left to upset Gators

Norwood's 124-yard, 2-TD 4th bites Gators
Jerious Norwood was flat on his back across the goal line. Mississippi State's trainers tended to him, and the junior running back took his time jogging off after scoring the first of his two fourth-quarter touchdowns.

Lowe saw his shot, took punt all the way
Down the field, more than 50 yards from where he stood, Jonathan Lowe saw his opening. The freshman punt returner is slowly training himself to recognize his opportunities, and Saturday against Florida, he saw one.

Loss doesn't help Zook's
Was Florida's 38-31 loss to Mississippi State the final blow to Ron Zook's hopes of remaining as the Gators' head coach?

Underdog MSU stuns Gators
Sylvester Croom has contributed to a lot of football victories as a player and coach, but none meant more to the first-year Mississippi State coach than the shocking 38-31 upset the Bulldogs scored Saturday at Scott Field against 20th-ranked Florida.

A day for Bulldog tears and wild State cheers
A lot has happened to the Mississippi State football program since Chris McNeil arrived for the 2001 season, and much of it has not been good.

Bulldogs embarrass Gators
Florida football coach Ron Zook took a quick look over his shoulder as he left the field Saturday, glancing in stunned disbelief at what he saw on the scoreboard.

Did State turn the corner on respectability?
Mississippi State's Jerious Norwood wasn't thinking about the ramifications of a certain coach roaming the Florida sidelines.

Punt return spearheads MSU upset over Florida
At 5-foot-7 and 165 pounds, Jonathan Lowe doesn't exactly cast an imposing shadow.

By the numbers
1: Fumble lost by Gator running backs this season after DeShawn Wynn's on Saturday. The Gators have only four this season.

Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200. Fire Zook
The question is not whether you fire Ron Zook. Shame on you for asking.

Police let Bulldog fans have their fun
As the clock wound down at Davis Wade Stadium, security officials had a decision to make.

In the doghouse
Trailing by seven with 32 seconds left, Florida's equipment crew started packing up the gear and rolling it toward the locker room when someone yelled, "The game's not over yet."

Among fans, the talk around town is . . .
Voices that I've been hearing ... Joanie Johns of Brooksville e-mails, "How could you be so hard on Ron Zook, a man with excellent human values and such a hard worker - obviously a tremendous recruiter - just because he's fallen a few wins shy of Steve Spurrier as coach of my Florida Gators?"

Is Ron Zook on thin ice?
How do I knock thee? Let me count the ways. Pity poor Ron Zook. Replacing a legend is difficult enough, but pleasing Gators fans along the way is a downright thankless job.

Florida Gator Soccer

Sanchez shows her true colors
When Florida soccer coach Becky Burleigh and assistant Vic Campbell went on a recruiting trip two years ago to Daniela Sanchez's house in Coral Gables, the directions included an interesting ending: Look for the orange and blue house.

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