Florida looks good, then looks ahead
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Almost everybody played, and it seemed like everybody scored.
Florida put on a vintage opening-night performance in a 65-3 victory over San Jose State, then quickly started dealing with reality.
Things get much more difficult next week when the Gators play at No. 3 Miami, 41-16 winners over their in-state rivals last season in The Swamp. That game, not Saturday night's drubbing of an overmatched opponent, will be the game that gives coach Ron Zook a good indication of the kind of team he really has.
"I don't remember going into a game at any level not thinking I can win," Zook said Sunday. "I want the players thinking they can win. We understand Miami is a talented group, and they've got great tradition. It's a great challenge for us, and a great opportunity."
Zook said sophomore Ingle Martin will start at quarterback because "you've got to go with the guy who gives you the best chance to win." But it wasn't meant to be a knock on freshman Chris Leak, who will also get playing time.
"He's going to improve, as is Ingle," Zook said. "The guys are going to improve by just taking snaps."
This quarterback debate could very well be moot had Brock Berlin not left Florida after the 2001 season for Miami. He'll make his second career start for the 'Canes on Saturday.
When he was hired to replace Steve Spurrier, Zook made a last-second plea to keep Berlin from leaving. He could have backed up Rex Grossman one more year, then been the starter this season.
"His mom wouldn't put him on the phone with me," Zook said. "But I think he had made that decision before Coach Spurrier decided" to leave.
Berlin's defection will be one of the main story lines of the week. Another will be whether Florida has improved enough in one year to draw close to one of the nation's best programs.
Zook thinks the Gators have closed the talent gap with Miami, but still have a way to go.
One thing that can't be doubted is that, against San Jose State, Florida had plenty of playmakers.
The Gators scored in almost every way imaginable. Guss Scott returned an interception 38 yards for a touchdown. Tre Orr returned another 73 yards for a score.
In a symbol of how well everything went for the Gators, receiver Reggie Lewis snatched a fumble by tailback DeShawn Wynn and, without breaking stride, sprinted 21 yards for a touchdown and a 51-3 lead.
"I'm surprised at the score," Zook said. "I didn't think it would be that way, but things happened and the ball bounced right for us."
The defense, meanwhile, stifled Scott Rislov -- a 3,000-yard passer last season -- holding him to just 57 yards.
In days of old, a dominating win like this -- however meaningless -- would have the Gators gloating. But things are different now. The Gators will be underdogs for the next seven days, and they were acting like it after the game.
"That was San Jose State," Scott said. "Miami is Miami."
This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index
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