Spotlight on Spurrier

<strong>Special Training Camp Edition. </strong> Steve Spurrier, famous for getting annoyed at his quarterbacks while coaching at Florida, was being very patient. The drill during the morning practice session involved the quarterbacks taking a snap, taking a three-step drop and firing the ball to a receiver on an eight-yard pattern. Over and over Danny Wuerffel, Shane Matthews, Sage Rosenfels, and Patrick Ramsey dropped back and threw as the Ball coach watched intently.

At least five times during the drill, which lasted less than ten minutes, Spurrier exhorted his signal callers to hold the ball up higher during their drop backs. The tendency was to hold the ball about level with the top of the numbers; Spurrier demonstrated keeping it a level nearer the facemask.

The hands-on coaching continued as he went over to the wide receivers, who were on one knee watching Spurrier demonstrate when and where to make a cut when running a particular pattern.

After that, the quarterbacks and receivers joined in the drill under the watchful eye of Spurrier, who continued to insist on proper ball positioning by the passers and on correctly-run routes on the part of his receivers.

As the morning practice wore on and the defense trotted over from the far field to the main field to join the offense. As seven on seven and 11 on 11 drills unfolded, Spurrier took a very different role, that of observer. He watched from near the sideline, occasionally speaking into a walkie-talkie. The instruction was being done by the assistant coaches with running backs coach Hue Jackson and defensive line coach Ricky Hunley standing out as being particularly animated.

The session was spirited with some trash talking going on. The loudest of the players was, no surprise here, Fred Smoot. He did walk the walk, however, as he picked off two passes.

As always, Spurrier addressed the media after the practice, declaring that nothing particularly good or bad happened during the session. His best line came when he was asked if he had a timetable for naming a starting quarterback. After saying that he might decide after the Tampa Bay game, the next to last preseason contest, he said that he wasn't committed to that. He said a decision might not come "until after the kickoff for the Arizona game (the regular season opener). Whoever runs out first will be the starter."

The afternoon session was conducted in no pads on this hot, humid day. The four quarterbacks were doing warm-up tosses near the auxiliary field. While Ramsey, Matthews, and Rosenfels casually wound up and let the ball fly, Wuerffel (picture 3737) brought the ball up near his facemask before each throw, just as his coach had been demonstrating that morning.

As the offense and defense conducted a two-minute drill—another lively session—the assistant coaches were the ones doing all of the coaching. Spurrier again observed from the side, again speaking occasionally into a walkie-talkie.

Before and after the drill, Spurrier's focus was on the quarterbacks. Quick patterns were again the emphasis in an early breakout session. After the hurry-up scrimmage, the signal callers took a knee and listened to the imparted wisdom of the Ball coach for ten minutes short before practice ended.

The Media Spotlight:

In the Chicago Sun-Times, Ron Rapaport wonders how exciting the Bears might be with Spurrier coaching ex-Bear Wuerffel in the Windy City
Chicago Sun Times

In the Durham Herald-Sun, Frank Dascenzo quotes Sam Huff as saying "We're used to Vince Lombardi, George Allen, Joe Gibbs. I think Steve is in that category." Way to put the pressure on, Sam.
Durham Herald Sun

From Charean Williams the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram in Cowboy country comes this about Spurrier: "Other coaches are going to love to hate him."
Ft. Worth Star-Telegram

Rich Tandler is the author of The Redskins From A to Z, Volume 1: The Games. For a look at this unique book, go to

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