Spotlight on Spurrier

It took him two weeks to announce his last starting quarterback for the Redskins. It took less than ten minutes for Steve Spurrier to make public his choice for future games.

"He's our guy," said Spurrier.

"He" is Patrick Ramsey.

For how long?

"Hopefully. . .he can go the distance," said the Ballcoach.

This figured to be a year ripe for scribes who live for the chance to report on and pontificate about a quarterback controversy. Changes figured to come early and often. At Florida, Spurrier never hesitated to yank a QB who displeased him and here is his first NFL season there was no established star drawing a big salary as the signal caller.

In fact, the quarterback drawing the biggest salary, rookie first-round pick Ramsey, was slated to sit on the bench, be redshirted this year while former Florida stars Shane Matthews and Danny Wuerffel battled for playing time.

Matthews played well in the opening win against Arizona, but was twice relived by Wuerffel in the next two games, both ugly losses. Spurrier's announced choice to start in Tennessee was Wuerffel, but only after two weeks of seeing if Ramsey could beat Danny out.

Wuerffel started, led a short field goal drive, and then exited due to an injured shoulder. The Ballcoach had painted himself into a corner. Matthews was the third QB, forcing Spurrier to insert Ramsey behind center.

If the coach was nervous, he didn't show it. Spurrier called the plays and then watched to see what would happen. In fact, his sideline demeanor became somewhat more restrained than usual, perhaps not wanting to shatter the confidence of his inexperienced signal caller by ripping off his headphones and visor or by sending a clipboard into suborbital flight.

Not that Ramsey gave him too much to be demonstrative about, mind you; not in a negative way. He played so well, in fact, that he helped the defense out if its doldrums. "If you're asking if we were able to feed off that," Bruce Smith said, "the answer is absolutely yes. It can work both ways; the defense can give the quarterback confidence by making a series of plays or a couple of crucial plays. He did that for us today. With every completion you could feel it. The way he played excited us all, and we fed off the positive energy."

Spurrier was impressed by the energy of Ramsey's passes. "He gets it there in a hurry," the Ballcoach said.

There appeared to be no "dumbing down" of the offense in deference to the rookie who had missed 16 days of training camp in a contract dispute. Ramsey called audibles early and often. His second-quarter touchdown pass to Rod Gardner was released just before the receiver made his break. "Coming into the game, I didn't know that he could step up with guys flying around him and make throws like he did," said Spurrier. But he thought he would see if the rookie could get it done.

"It's amazing how it worked out," said Spurrier. Yes, it was.

Rich Tandler is the author of The Redskins From A to Z, Volume 1: The Games. For a look at this unique book that chronicles all 925 Redskins games from 1937 through 2001, visit RedskinsAtoZ.com.


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