& Answers with Florida
head coach Steve Spurrier
1. Is this the
biggest game or one of the biggest games that you have played at Ben Hill
"Certainly it is one of the biggest. I never like to try to say which
one is the biggest. It is certainly right up there among them. Last year,
we were playing South Carolina in a similar situation, where the winner
would win the Eastern Division. We were fortunate to come back and win
that thing and go on and win the SEC, so it is a similar situation. The
division is on the line for both teams, maybe a chance to play for the
conference and who knows what else. But I am sure Fulmer and his guys
are just trying to win the division first and go from there just like
2. What are your
concerns coming into this game at running back?
"Yes it is unfortunate, but we have a lot of good running backs.
Robert Gillespie is a good back. Ran Carthon hasn't played much and Willie
Green is a back with a so-so knee that has held up decently the few times
that he has played. But, we have some good running backs and we need to
mix it up and run it and throw it and all that kind of stuff like we always
do. Not many teams run the ball well on Tennessee anyways, but you need
to run it some. Just like we run a little bit. We haven't been a great
running team all year, but we have run decently at times. We will go on
from there and let those guys have an opportunity."
3. Talk about the
play of your defensive unit this season.
"Our defense is much, much improved from last year. Much more improved.
We were not a very good defense last year. In fact, I think we finished
seventh or eighth in the conference last year in total defense and we
won the conference. I don't think that has ever happened before. But,
we are leading the conference in about all of the defensive categories
right now. So John Hoke, our defensive staff and our players have really
played well. We think we are playing better, coaching better and that
is the reason we have not had many close games because of our defense."
4. Now that the
game is played at the end of the season, do you see an advantage or disadvantage
in playing the game this time of the year for you or Tennessee?
"I guess Tennessee had some injuries way back in September. A couple
of their lineman and Donte' Stallworth, I guess, were out back then, and
now they are healthy. Except for Earnest Graham, we have stayed healthy
the whole year. We have been fortunate this year. But to tell you the
truth, I always like to play another team when they have their best players
and we have our best players and have a go at it and see who wins the
game. That is what everybody wants to see and that is what the game is
all about. Most coaches, I think, would rather be successful beating a
guy's best team as opposed to a team that was all banged up. We are actually
very healthy and I guess so is Tennessee now. It should be a heck of a
5. How has your
team responded since the loss to Auburn?
"All coaches will probably tell you that it is good to lose one to
slap you up side the head and wake you up a little bit to let you know
that you are not as good as you think you are, what the media and your
friends tell you that you are. So the Auburn game helped us. Right now
looking back, in fact it did help us. It hasn't hurt us a bit because
we would have to beat Tennessee anyway, and, as far as the national standings,
we couldn't be any better. So it was good for us to lose that one and
I hope we can continue play the way we have been playing since that game."
6. What are your
thoughts about Tennessee, both offensively and defensively?
"I don't watch their offense a whole bunch. Obviously Stallworth
and Washington give them to big time receivers. Casey Clausen has played
very well all year, as has Travis Stephens. Their offense has been very
good and their defense has been good, too. So, they are just a total team.
They have a good kicker and I guess their punter is pretty good, I haven't
watched him much. They are a good solid team like just about all of Coach
Fulmer's teams. They are solid on offense and defense. They play real
smart and they don't beat themselves. That is why they have won so many,
7. With the last
couple of games being so close, what are your thoughts about this game?
"You are exactly right. We have had a lot of good fortune against
Tennessee. What was it last year (27-23), and 23-21, I think, the year
before. It seems like something good has happened for us in the close
games with Tennessee, with the exception of 1998. But who knows what is
going to happen this week. Who knows how it is all going to play out.
It should be a heck of a game."