Herd can only praise Florida

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 3, 2001


Monday, September 03, 2001

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -Marshall Bob Pruett felt like his team got the short end of the deal. Or at least the field.

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One of the things Pruett didn’t want to happen Saturday night against top-ranked Florida did.

"We played the whole first half on a short field, and you can’t play Coach (Steve) Spurrier on a short field. He’ll find a way to get touchdowns."

And the Gators did just that. They found seven overall and five the first half en route to a 49-14 spanking of the Thundering Herd.

"We knew coming down here that we would have to play as close to perfect as we could," said Pruett. "We had to play extremely well, the kicking game, and we didn’t execute that very well. We didn’t play very well on special teams. We had two big punt returns."

Marshall, 0-1, wanted to give the Gators a strong test. A record crowd of 85,445 anticipated a strong opponent in Florida’s opener, but the Gators were more than up to the challenge.

Quarterback Rex Grossman was 16-of-22 for 343 yards and three touchdowns in just the first half as Florida went up 35-0. He finished 20-of-30 for 375 yards and an interception to go with the three TD passes.

"We played well tonight. I think we executed incredibly well in the first quarter," Grossman said. "I said going into this game that I was going to play with as few mistakes as possible and I did pretty good at that tonight."

Pruett knew Florida would be almost an impossible task to beat, but he didn’t expect the lopsided score and the Gators overall domination.

"I think Florida has an extremely outstanding football team. They have great athletes and they are more athletic than I thought they’d be," Pruett said.

Herd linebacker Max Yates plans to put the game behind him.

"They are a great team and the score was pretty much ran up. When we come back on Monday, we’re going to look at the positives, which there are not many. We definitely will look at where we broke down and didn’t communicate or didn’t execute, period," said Yates.

"We’re in the MAC now, and we’ve got to win the MAC championship."

Herd quarterback Byron Leftwich wanted to play well and influence the Heisman Trophy voters. He finished 27-for-43 for 274 yards, but those numbers were largely padded when the game was virtually over late in the second half.

"They are the number one team in the country and we knew it was going to be tough. We made some plays, but every time we made some plays, we’d come back and makes a bad play or we would make a mistake," Leftwich said.