The news was better contained than the illness…
As stories emerged this morning regarding Tim Tebow, Riley Cooper, and Major Wright’s quarantine flight to Lexington speculation has soared regarding the impact, if any, this will have tonight’s game against Kentucky.
University of Florida officials have not confirmed that the flu is the reason these Gators were separated from the rest of the team but additional charter flights are not booked for a case of the sniffles or a common cold.
Read between the lines, especially the very few lines you get from Gainesville, and it’s probably a good bet that this issue is worse than we are being led to believe.
If Tebow is sick with the flu what does this mean for the Gators as they prepare for tonight’s kickoff against the Wildcats?
Specifically, what impact might an ill Tebow have on an already shaky passing game?
Will he be healthy enough to mule the offensive load with his rushing if called upon to do so?
Unfortunately, we know as much as Urban Meyer wants Kentucky Head Coach Rich Brooks to know…
Regardless how ill, chances are that Tebow will start the game – he won’t be 100 percent but fit enough to play.
Meyer and Addazio will protect Tebow by limiting his rushing and keeping him out of the pocket as much as possible. However, the smart money says to look for at least one deep pass early in an attempt to persuade the Wildcats that Tebow’s pre-game isolation was just precautionary.
The bulk of the game will see a rotation of every healthy running back left in the Gator stable. Chris Rainey, Jeffery Demps, and Emmanuel Moody will provide the bulk of the carries but look for Brandon James to provide some unexpected spark by executing wideout sweeps or off tackle slants.
Beyond the token long ball, Meyer may attempt to keep the box less crowed by calling wide screens and simple out routes.
Who Tebow throws to will remain a mystery since the flu has already claimed several members of the receiver corps apparently including Cooper. If healthy, look for tight end Aaron Herandez and wideout Deonte Thompson to help spread the field.
We might even see John Brantley take the snap on second and long situations.
The Gator line will have their hands full with a Kentucky defense instructed to apply as much pressure on Tebow as possible.
Should the Wildcats sense that the long ball isn’t an option they will crowd the line and cover the off tackle lanes. The success of the running game will then depend on the ability of the Gator wideouts to lead the sweeps and block the corners and OLB’s.
Charlie Strong’s defense will have one mission… keep the score down and get the ball back in the hands of the offense as soon as possible.
What was supposed to be a no-brainer has now become the most important game yet played for the Gators.
Winning for image is no longer a concern for the Gators… they simply have to find a way to win.