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Sunday, November 18
Updated: November 20, 12:07 AM ET
 
Graham says leg might have been twisted in pileup

ESPN.com news services

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida tailback Earnest Graham, who found out Sunday he'll miss three to five weeks because of a sprained right knee, claims the injury might not have been an accident.

Graham, who left No. 3 Florida's 37-13 victory over Florida State on crutches Saturday night, told coach Steve Spurrier that a Seminoles defender may have injured his right knee by twisting his leg in the pile after a tackle.

"I hate to bring it up, but I've got to say something on behalf of Earnest Graham," Spurrier said. "If it happened, we'll let the proper people look at the thing, because I know Bobby Bowden wouldn't have a player try to twist a guy's leg in the bottom of the pileup."

There are no replays that clearly show the end of the play where Graham injured the knee. Florida State lineman Darnell Dockett is listed as the tackler on the play.

Spurrier spoke after reviewing game tapes.

"The tape didn't show it clearly, but the guy was doing something down there," Spurrier told the Palm Beach Post.

According to a story in Monday's editions of the Post, Dockett was overheard discussing the play after the game and saying to teammates, "Did you guys see what I did to Earnest Graham?"

"In the history of college football, I've heard of people twisting an ankle, but how are you going to twist a knee?" Bowden said. "I'm not mad at Steve. Steve might be kidding. But I'm thinking, I've heard of twisting an ankle in the pile, but I don't know how you twist a knee."

Dockett's public comments after the game were of a general nature. "It's hard to talk about this game right now, but we're going to have to take this loss like the rest of them," Dockett was quoted as saying in the Post. "They had clutch plays and made the plays they needed to. Our biggest goal as the defensive line was to get pressure on (Gators quarterback) Rex Grossman."

Robert Gillespie will start at running back for Florida (9-1) against Tennessee on Dec. 1, Spurrier said. The last time Graham was injured and could not play, at Auburn, Florida struggled to convert on third down, suffered the second-lowest rushing total in school history (negative 36 yards) and wound up losing for the only time this season.

Ran Carthon also will see time at running back.

Spurrier said team doctors diagnosed it as a sprained knee. If Graham misses even three weeks, he would be out of Florida's game Dec. 1 against Tennessee and the SEC title game if the Gators make it.

Whatever the outcome, the accusation is sure to carry over to next year in this, one of the country's best rivalries, albeit a watered-down affair because of Florida State's struggles this season. The Seminoles are not ranked in the AP media poll for the first time since September 1989.

"They're not the team they've been in the past," Spurrier said.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.




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