Gators start with verbal assault

By Wes Swietek

One of the unwritten rules of college football is that you don’t say anything that can be considered negative about an upcoming opponent.

Florida Gators coach Steve Spurrier, and some of his players, apparently don’t mind breaking the rules when talking about Saturday’s game against the Huskies.

“They (NIU) are going to come in here not a very good team,” defensive tackle Tony McCoy said.

“We want to win convincingly. I’m sure that they’re not coming in here with the attitude that they can win. We want to put them away early so the starters can watch the rest of the game from the sidelines,” defensive tackle Brad Culpepper said.

Spurrier also characterized the Huskies as “not a very good team.”

With Florida being ranked 6th nationally and the Huskies at 1-5, the Gators can probably get away with that confident attitude.

But NIU coach Charlie Sadler isn’t dismissing Florida’s comments as typical pre-game hype.

“It’s certainly something we’re talking to our players about,” Sadler said. “We’ll go down there and give them all they want.”

As for the assessment of his team being not very good—”We’re not where we want to be, but we’re making strides.

“Oklahoma, Nebraska and Florida are very good football teams; we’re not at that level,” Sadler said.

Florida (5-1) suffered its only loss against Syracuse (38-21) and is coming off an emotional 35-18 win over previously unbeaten Tennessee.

But Sadler isn’t counting on having the Gators suffering an emotional letdown and overlooking the Huskies.

“I don’t think they will be near the emotional level as when they played Tennessee, but this obviously will be a tough game for us,” Sadler said.

The Huskies traveled to Iowa in late September and suffered a 58-7 pounding, giving NIU some previous experience in visiting Top-10 teams.

“The similarity is that we’re going to play a Top-10 team,” Sadler said. “But now, we’re not as healthy.”

The rash of injuries Sadler referred to includes starting quarterback Stacey McKinney, who suffered a shoulder injury last Saturday against Western Michigan.

But McKinney has been throwing well in practice and will start against the Gators, Sadler said.

A sellout Homecoming crowd of more than 83,000 is expected for Saturday’s game, which will be shown on a tape-delay basis on SportsChannel at noon Sunday.

The game will be NIU’s first-ever against a Southeastern Conference team.