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61 posts from September 2009

September 30, 2009

TIM TEBOW UPDATE: Looked 'terrific' on Tuesday night

GAINESVILLE -- Florida coach Urban Meyer addressed quarterback Tim Tebow's status on Wednesday morning during the weekly Southeastern Conference coaches' teleconference:

"I've turned this over to our medical staff," Meyer said. "And every day -- because I don't know and I don't want to mislead anyone or say something that's not right -- so every day, because I do the same thing, 'What's new with Tim?' it's day to day and there is nothing earth shattering. They're continuing to monitor. Last night I saw him around 9 and he looked terrific. That's the best I've seen him look. Yesterday during the day he looked OK. He looked good. So it's day to day with him. I've yet to see him today."

Meyer will speak to reporters around 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

Meyer said during the teleconference that back-up cornerback Moses Jenkins of Lauderdale Lakes Boyd Anderson, who also had a concussion on Saturday, is receiving the same care as Tebow.

Offensive lineman Marcus Gilbert of Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas has a bruised elbow and bicep. Mike and Maurkice Pouncey are also slightly injured (Mike's ankle; Maurkice's shoulder) but should be fine by next week.

--The flu continues to spread through the team. On Monday, cornerback Markihe Anderson and safety Will Hill were sick. On Tuesday scout-team quarterback Andrew Blaylock and reserve defensive end Kedric Johnson had a fever.

"The good thing is we're going to go Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and then Friday, Saturday, Sunday they're off," Meyer said. "And they're back Monday morning read to go, so we're hoping that kind of wipes it out."


September 29, 2009

TUESDAY TIM TEBOW UPDATE: Symptoms of concussion remain


GAINESVILLE -- University of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow is still having headaches.

On Tuesday afternoon, almost three days after suffering a concussion during the third quarter of UF's 41-7 win against Kentucky, the All-American quarterback continued to show lingering symptoms of his brain injury. Tebow had headaches on Monday as well, according to Florida coach Urban Meyer.

"It's day to day," Meyer said. "It could change Wednesday. It could change Thursday."

Florida's medical team did not address the media on Tuesday but did release a statement without attribution: "Tim continues to rest and recover. He also undergoes daily testing and we continue to monitor his resolution of symptoms."

Tuesday's tests included measures of Tebow's internal equilibrium, cognitive response time and memory. Tebow will likely undergo daily testing for at least another week. Meyer observed Tuesday's testing for about 20 minutes.

"It's not like a test, 'How's your ankle? Fine. Good,'" Meyer said. "You have to pass the tests and he did good."

After his tests, Tebow met briefly with his teammates, received an ovation for being named offensive player of the game against Kentucky and then went back to his apartment to rest.

"I talked to him for a minute," Meyer said. "This isn't like a turf toe or a shoulder. This is a concussion. So, he's a grown man. He's going to take care of himself and I'm very proud of the way he's handling it, which you would expect."

According to Meyer, Tebow is not allowed to read or watch television "until later in the week -- maybe Thursday." Meyer said that UF's general protocol for players with concussions is a "non-stimulus environment, like a dark room, and rest as much as you can."

On Monday, Meyer said that he was hopeful Tebow could play against LSU but the coach was more subdued on Tuesday, telling reporters that he "hasn't even talked about" the subject with Tebow. "We're just trying to get healthy," Meyer said.

Florida's players remain optimistic that Tebow can play at No.4 LSU (4-0) on Oct. 10. No.1 Florida (4-0) does not play on Saturday.

"I think they're going to do everything in their power to get Tim ready to play," cornerback Joe Haden said. "And the bye week definitely helps."


Rest Tim Tebow: Florida can lose to LSU and still play for the national title

GAINESVILLE -- I thought about writing a blog post today about who's to blame for Tim Tebow's concussion. It's a hot subject and everyone else seems to be doing it. Then again, in the three seasons I've covered college football, I've learned to swim against the current and focus my efforts elsewhere when everyone else is writing the same thing.

There's no need to point fingers -- just my opinion. Tebow returned to UF in part to win another Heisman Trophy and that's why he was still in the game against Kentucky. As for the play when Tebow suffered his concussion, offensive coordinator Steve Addazio bravely took the blame on Monday when he told reporters that he should have called a different play. But it's not really Addazio's fault.  In the end, a freak accident is to blame.

A freak accident -- Tebow's head colliding with Marcus Gilbert's knee (I've heard that Gilbert is taking this whole thing pretty badly, so Florida's coaches probably need to counsel this guy and let him know that it's not his fault.) -- is the subject of this blog post. Due to the circumstances of Tebow's injury and based upon the current landscape of college football, it's my opinion that UF can lose to LSU without Tebow and still play for the national title.

If you focus on the outcome of the LSU game from a simple risk-reward scenario, there is far more that UF can lose than it can gain by playing Tebow against the Tigers. If Florida rushes Tebow back from his concussion and he suffers another concussion against LSU, then everyone from UF coach Urban Meyer, to athletic director Jeremy Foley, to the team doctor, to the university president, will be in big-time trouble.

It's simply not worth the risk of playing Tebow against LSU when you take into account the first month of the college football season. At the beginning of the season, we all thought that UF vs. LSU would be the pivotal game of the season for both teams. Well, that's not the case anymore. This is not a must win game for Florida.

With so much upheaval in the Top 10 during the first four weeks of the season -- Penn State, Oklahoma, California, Miami, Virginia Tech, Ohio State, USC and Oklahoma State all have one loss already -- Florida can lose to LSU and still play for the national title. Florida can still run the table in the SEC East, defeat either Alabama, LSU or Ole Miss in the SEC championship game and receive a bid to the title game.

Does anyone actually think that a one-loss Florida team (whose only loss came without Tebow) would be left out of the national title game? No. Absolutely not. Ain't gonna happen! No voter in the coaches poll or the Harris poll will deny a one-loss Florida team a berth to the national title game if the Gators' only loss was at LSU ... at night ... without Tebow ... and with a back-up quarterback making his first career start.

Let's take a look around the country. Is an undefeated Boise State team going to play for a national title over a one-loss Florida team? No. Is an undefeated Cincinnati team going to play for a national title over a one-loss Florida team? No. What about a one-loss Virginia Tech team. No, the Hokies lost to Alabama. What about a one-loss Ohio State team? No. A one-loss Florida team will be ranked ahead of a one-loss Ohio State by the end of the season. Same goes for Penn State, USC, Oregon, Cal -- a one-loss Florida team will be ranked ahead of all these pretenders.

Does anyone really think South Florida and Iowa are going to finish the season undefeated? No. Will a one-loss UF team be ranked ahead of an undefeated TCU team? Yes. Is Michigan going undefeated? No. And even if the Wolverines run the table, I'd rank a one-loss Florida team ahead of Michigan. Notre Dame? Please.

If Florida loses to LSU without Tebow and then runs the table, UF will get the sympathy vote and will be ranked ahead of all other one-loss teams and non-BCS undefeated also-rans.

Rest Tebow against LSU. It's not a must-win game and the risky consequences of playing Tebow (no matter how small and unlikely and no matter how asymptomatic Tebow is by next week) far outweigh the consequences of losing at LSU. 

And, personally, I still think UF can defeat LSU with John Brantley under center.


September 28, 2009

Did Tim Tebow have a slight concussion after collision with Eric Berry?

GAINESVILLE -- My brother back home in Birmingham (who I think is turning into a Florida fan) brought this to my attention today: Did Tim Tebow have a slight concussion after colliding with Tennessee's Eric Berry two weeks ago?

After re-watching the video of the play, I can see my brother's concern. Tebow shakes his head briefly after the play as if to shake off the hit. A Florida team spokesman told me on Sunday that Tebow's concussion against Kentucky was the first of his career. It certainly wasn't Tebow's first blow to the head, though.

Against Tennessee, even Florida coach Urban Meyer was briefly concerned about Tebow after his collision with Berry. After the play, Meyer said he made a point to ask Tebow if he was OK. Florida called a timeout on first and goal two plays after Tebow's collision with Tennessee's strong safety.


TIM TEBOW UPDATE: Meyer thinks the quarterback will play against LSU

GAINESVILLE -- Florida coach Urban Meyer said that quarterback Tim Tebow was still symptomatic on Monday after suffering a concussion on Saturday evening during the third quarter of UF's 41-7 win against Kentucky.

Meyer said Tebow had headaches on Monday but said that tests were positive and that Tebow is improving. Tebow will undergo tests throughout the week and Meyer said to expect daily updates on Tebow's condition. 

Asked if Tebow will play against LSU on Oct. 10, Meyer siad, "I think so, but I don't know that."


Dr. Robert Cantu, renowned neurosurgeon, sheds light on Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow's concussion

GAINESVILLE -- Don't expect University of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow to practice this week but he could be ready for the Gators' away game on Oct.10 against No.4 Louisiana State, according to Dr. Robert Cantu, a renowned neurosurgeon who is considered a leading expert on return-to-play guidelines for sports concussions.

Because we're just as concerned about Timmy as the rest of the college football world, Gator Clause decided to go directly to the source for an explanation for our many questions regarding sports-related concussions, the many grading scales used in diagnosing concussions and, most importantly: When is it OK for Tebow to return to the playing field?


First, an introduction: Dr. Cantu published the first ever return-to-play guidelines for sports concussions in 1986 (known as the Cantu Scale). Slightly revised in 2001 and still the most widely recognized guidelines by athletic trainers, he devised the first grading system for concussions based on symptoms at the time of injury (Grades 1, 2, 3) and provided medical professionals with concussion management guidelines where there existed none before.

Dr. Cantu served as President of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), the oldest and largest sports medicine and exercise-science organization in the world, from 1992 to 1993. At the 2007 ACSM's annual meeting, Dr. Cantu was asked to give the prestigious J.B. Dill Lecture, and presented "The History of Concussions."

Q&A with Dr. Robert Cantu:

OK, so we've established that there is pretty much no one else in this world that knows more about sports-related concussions than Dr. Cantu. With the introductions out of the way, here's a Q&A I had with Dr. Cantu on Monday morning. It should be noted that Dr. Cantu spoke in generalities on Monday as he is not familiar with Tebow's case, medical history or symptoms. Generally speaking, according to Dr. Cantu, Tebow will likely be able to return to the practice field after a week if he is asymptomatic in the next few days.

Q: What are the chances Tebow returns to the field after a week of rest?
A: The bottom line is, as I think you can appreciate, when you talk about concussion and recovery patterns and all that stuff, it's a bell-shaped curve and the majority of people return within a week, probably about 75 to 80 percent. But that's not everybody, and there is no way on Day One to know whether someone is going to clear and be in that 80 percent group or be in that 20 percent group where symptoms may go on and last more than a week or even weeks.

It's possible that Tim could be in the fortunate group and within another four or five days he's asymptomatic and it's also possible Tim could be in that group that he is still going to be symptomatic in four or five days. And if he's in that group it's not safe for him to practice much less even work out. He should be asymptomatic at rest before he's allowed to exert himself and see whether exertion produces symptoms.

Q: What is Tebow doing right now, in the next few days, to recover from his concussion?
A: Right now it's a cognitive rest period for Tim and a physical rest period, waiting for all of his symptoms to clear and his case, I think it was complicated by the fact that he was playing with the flu, and that's going to have to be sorted out -- whether any of his ongoing symptoms are flu-related or concussion related. So, it's going to be to a little more tricky.

Q: Is loss of consciousness an indication of a severe concussion?
A: Brief loss of consciousness -- and by brief I'm talking about seconds -- is really not correlated necessarily to a severe concussion. It's certainly a moderate concussion but it's not necessarily indicating his symptoms are going to last a long period of time or that he's going to be out a long period of time.

If you're unconscious for more than a minute, then that is a severe concussion and tends to be associated with a slow recovery.

Q: Did Tebow's preexisting illness have anything to do with his concussion?
A: It doesn't at all. It just means that you're going to have to be comfortable knowing which symptoms he may have now are flu related versus concussion related. Many of the 25 symptoms of concussion -- for instance headache, light-headedness -- are shared symptoms with many other medical conditions, too. It doesn't have to be related to a concussion if it happened right after head trauma. But if you already had some kind of medical condition going on, for instance if you had some kind of headache or light headedness before because you had the flu, then you're going to have to sort it out -- whether you think it's the flu or whether you think it's the concussion. It adds a little bit of complexity for the assessment to be properly done.

Q: What will UF's doctors be looking for in the next few days?
A: Most importantly you are looking for the symptoms to clear, those that are there. Before they totally clear, you're looking for them to get better. And that's the normal pattern. Those that are there will diminish in their intensity and go away. And that may happen within a day. That may happen within a number of days. It may take weeks. If it takes weeks, then he's going to be out a long time. That's probably unlikely for him because he's not had prior significant head injuries, so that's an optimistic thing for him compared to someone who has had a lot of concussions before.

What the medical team chooses to do will be their individual decision but for sure he shouldn't be practicing until all of his symptoms are cleared.

Q: Florida has a bye week this week and doesn't play its next game until Oct. 10. How might this affect Tebow's recovery and return?
A: That is extremely fortuitous. That's huge. That's great. There should be no other consideration other than letting this guy get over his symptoms.

Q: Tebow spent the night in Kentucky and underwent CT scans. What were doctors looking for?
A: They were looking for inter-cranial bleeding. There not looking, per say, for the effect of a concussion because you don't see it on a CT or on an MRI. You're only looking for other things that may be associated with head trauma like bleeding. And the fact that it was normal is good. It just means he had a concussion. Nothing more.

Q: You helped the sports medicine field understand concussions by creating a grading scale. What would Tebow's grade be, based on your knowledge of sports-related concussions?
A: If you use my grading scale, you would realize that you can't grade it until the symptoms are over. Because the severity is really determined by how long the symptoms last. And we don't know how long his symptoms have lasted. We know it's a Grade II minimum but he may get into a Grade III if his symptoms last over a week.

Q: Is grading a concussion difficult? Is there room for ambiguity or is it clear cut?
A: It's very clear how you grade it. It's not ambiguous or hard to figure out. There are just many people that choose to not grade a concussion because you don't need to use a grade to manage concussion because you need to be asymptomatic before you start to return again no matter what the grade. I personally think it's very useful to grade a concussion not so much for that one but for subsequent ones. If someone has had a severe concussion, then that's more alarming than someone who had a minor one.

Here is Dr. Cantu's daily checklist of symptoms he recommends using for evaluating a player who has had a concussion:


_______________________At time of concussion....Today

1.   Bell Rung

2.   Depression

3. Dinged

4. Dizziness

5. Drowsiness

6. Excessive Sleep

7. Fatigue

8. Feel “in a fog”

9. Feel “slowed down”

10. Headache

11. Irritability

12. Loss of Consciousness

13. Memory Problems

14. Nausea

15. Nervousness

16. Numbness/Tingling

17. Poor Balance

18. Poor Concentration

19. Ringing in the ears

20. Sadness

21. Sensitivity to Light

22. Sensitivity to Noise

23. Trouble Falling Asleep

24. Vacant stare/glassy eyed

25. Vomiting


How severe is Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow's concussion?

GAINESVILLE -- Here's a question that needs answering on Monday when University of Florida coach Urban Meyer briefs reporters on the status of quarterback Tim Tebow: How severe is Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow's concussion?

On Sunday, Meyer said in a statement that Tebow "is doing fine." The statement was vague but understandably so, considering team doctors will be running tests on Tebow throughout the week to fully understand the extent of his brain injury. Tebow suffered a concussion on Saturday during the third quarter of UF's 41-7 win against Kentucky. Here's a link to my follow-up story in Monday's paper. CLICK ME! And here's a link to an opinion column by Miami Herald sportswriter Israel Gutierrez in Monday's paper about the Gators. CLICK ME!

In Monday's story, I focused on observations made by UF linebacker Ryan Stamper, who watched from the sidelines, and then the playing field, as the one of the biggest stories in college football this season -- Tebow's concussion -- played out inside UK's Commonwealth Stadium. Stamper usually does not watch Tebow and the Gators' offense during games, but on Saturday Stamper made a point to watch Tebow in action during the third quarter.

Being a defender, Stamper zeroed in on UK defensive tackle Taylor Wyndham as he sprinted unblocked at Tebow and then leveled UF's quarterback. Stamper, along with UF's entire team, was on the field shortly after it became obvious that Tebow was seriously injured.

TebowAccording to the linebacker, Tebow was "knocked out cold" following the multiple blows his head absorbed during the play. Three shots to the head: Wyndham's helmet, Gilbert's knee and then the ground.

"A lot of guys get concussions or knocked out but kind of get up and just don't know where they were at," Stamper said after the game. "[Tebow] was just knocked out cold -- wasn't moving or anything. I've never really seen nothing like that before, especially from him.

"It was kind of shocking."

Now, consider the source after you read that quote. To teammates, Stamper is a captain, trusted voice and levelheaded leader. To reporters, Stamper is a soft-spoken veteran football player who measures his words.

Specialists classify the severity of a concussion with three grades: I, II and III. According to the American Academy of Neurology, a Grade III concussion -- or the most severe -- is the diagnoses for any concussion when a player loses consciousness.

On Saturday and Sunday, Florida coach Urban Meyer and then a member of UF's sports information staff publicly said they were unaware that Tebow lost consciousness. If anyone watched the game, or re-watched footage of Wyndham's sack on YouTube, it's obvious that Tebow was knocked unconscious. Wyndham said after the game that Tebow's eyes rolled into the back of his head. Tebow didn't move for several minutes. His arms were locked in a raised position -- a common symptom of a concussion -- as he fell to the ground and then both arms went limp and flopped to the field. He did not respond to team trainers for nearly two minutes. 

Tebowcart Meyer said after the game that the first thing Tebow asked him was whether or not he fumbled the ball during the sack. That might be true but Tebow did show signs of amnesia after he was helped off the field. On the sidelines, he could be seen repeatedly responding to questions from Florida's training staff with the same answer: "I don't remember."

Bob Tebow, Tim's father, did not return phone calls on Sunday, but Craig Howard, Tebow's high school football coach, told the Orlando Sentinel that the Tebows informed him on Sunday morning that the quarterback's concussion was "mild." By all other accounts, Tebow's concussion was anything but mild.

In his column in Monday's Miami Herald, Gutierrez made an interesting point. Gutierrez wrote: Already, though, the Gators' spin machine appears to be setting up for a Tebow return on Oct. 10, when UF faces its toughest regular-season test: at Louisiana State.

Of course, that's going to be the biggest question for the next two weeks: Will Tebow play against LSU? Considering Tebow's rugged style -- he had 40 carries in his last two games -- and UF's lack of receivers, the quarterback will likely expose himself to further possible concussions upon his return. According to medical experts, once you suffer one concussion, the potential for future concussions is raised considerably.

My personal opinion? I don't think Meyer, UF athletic director Jeremy Foley and, most importantly, the team's doctor -- the guy who has to make the call on Tebow's return -- is going to take a chance of a nightmare scenario by putting Tebow in harms way against LSU.

Oh, yeah, and then there's this: UF can defeat LSU without Tebow.


September 27, 2009

Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow back in Gainesville

GAINESVILLE -- University of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow is back in Gainesville after being released from University of Kentucky Chandler Medical Center on Sunday morning.

Tebow suffered a concussion on Saturday night during the third quarter of the Gators' 41-7 win against the Kentucky Wildcats. He was taken to the hospital during the fourth quarter and was monitored throughout the night. Tebow flew back to Gainesville on the University Athletic Association's private jet.

"Tim is doing fine this morning," Florida coach Urban Meyer said. "His CT scans came back and indicated that Tim suffered a concussion. Our medical and athletic training staff will continue to monitor him to determine how much rest and recovery he needs. We will have additional information and updates this week."

No.1 Florida (4-0) is off this week and plays at No.4  Louisiana State (4-0) on Oct. 10.


September 26, 2009

More reaction on the Tebow hit

By Mike McCall

While we wait for more information on the severity of Tebow's injury, here's some post-game reaction.

UF LB Ryan Stamper

On the hit: “To me, when I saw him, my heart just dropped. I’ve never seen him like that before, where he’s not moving. I wanted to put a big emphasis on watching the offense this game, because a lot of times I try to sit on the sideline and work things out on the defense and get my rest. I wanted to watch the offense, so I saw the play, and I saw the lineman coming the whole way. When he hit him and he didn’t get up, I was just praying to God that it wasn’t a neck or a spine problem. I think that lifted up the defense to play a lot harder after that.”

On when he visited Tebow on the sideline: “He still looked pretty out of it. I went over and shook his hand, and he shook mine back. I didn’t want to talk to him because I didn’t want to take his attention. He was already going through a lot.”

UK DE Taylor Wyndham

The play: "What happened was that the tackle blocked down and I was unblocked. I came from the corner and hit him. It was just a normal hit. I didn't really think that much about it. He is a big guy. I just thought it was a normal play and a normal hit and everything."

UK coach Rich Brooks

"I feel bad for a guy like him to have a concussion, but when you look at how many times he carries and throws the ball, he hasn't had too many injuries, so he has been a pretty fortunate guy."

"It was a clean hit. ... It looked like it knocked him out, and it looked to me like the ball was on the ground."

UF QB John Brantley

“I was taken aback because that was a nasty hit,” Brantley said. “The way he just froze up, it was unbelievable. My thoughts and prayers go out to him, and I’ll hopefully see him [Sunday] or Monday.” 

Urban Meyer said if Tebow can't play Oct. 10 against LSU, it'll be Brantley leading an offense similar to the one run by Chris Leak.

Tebow knocked unconscious during third quarter

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Florida quarterback Tim Tebow was knocked unconscious by Kentucky defensive end Taylor Wyndham with 3:57 left in the third quarter.

Wyndham, a back-up defender, was unblocked on the play and blindsided Tebow, who fell to the ground and laid motionless for more than two minutes. UF's entire team crowded around the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner while trainers monitored Tebow's breathing. Kentucky's crowd began chanting, "Let's go, Tebow! Let's go, Tebow!"

After several tense minutes, Tebow was helped off the field by trainers. He was replaced in the fourth quarter by back-up John Brantley.

Florida leads Kentucky 34-7 at the end of the third quarter.


Florida dominating Kentucky 31-0 after 1st Q

GAINESVILLE -- Anyone still worried about an upset?

Florida dominated the first quarter against Kentucky on Saturday and finished the quarter with a 31-0 lead. It was a best-case scenario for the Gators, who entered the game with health concerns after several starters fell ill this week with flu-like symptoms, including quarterback Tim Tebow.

For some reason, I don't think Tebow is feeling too bad. He rushed for 79 yards on nine carries for two touchdowns in the first quarter. Running back Jeff Demps has 49 yards on five carries. Chris Rainey blocked a punt and recovered in the end zone for a score. For good measure, UF ended the first quarter with a 44-yard pass from Tebow to tight end Aaron Hernandez.

If you're counting at home, UF had eight rushing plays of 10 or more yards in the first half. Tebow completed 3 of 4 passing attempts for 75 yards. Running back Emmanuel Moody has 29 yards of total offense on two plays.


Florida Gators QB Tim Tebow and others expected to play despite illness

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- University of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow is expected to play on Saturday despite suffering from a respiratory illness, according to a team source.

Tebow, receiver Riley Cooper, safety Major Wright and cornerback Joe Haden are the latest Gators to contract illnesses that are moving through the team. Haden and Wright are roommates and Tebow and Cooper are roommates as well. The four players flew to Lexington aboard a different plane than their teammates on Friday. The majority of UF's football team were on a chartered flight while Tebow, Wright and Haden flew to Lexington aboard the University Athletic Association's private jet.

According to the source, neither Tebow, Wright or Haden had a fever on Saturday morning. According to Joe Haden Sr., his son had a fever of 102 degrees this week and received fluids intravenously after practices. Haden Sr. expects his son, Tebow, Wright and Cooper to play on Saturday but Haden Sr. said that all four players are sick and less than 100 percent.

Eight UF starters have become sick in the last week: Cooper, Tebow, Wright, Haden, linebacker A.J. Jones, defensive end Jermaine Cunningham, running back Jeff Demps and tight end Aaron Hernandez. According to Florida coach Urban Meyer, more than 35 cases of illness have affected the football team in the last three weeks. According to the souce, neither Tebow, Wright or Haden had a fever on Saturday morning.

No.1 Florida (3-0) plays Kentucky (2-0) at 6 p.m. at UK's Commonwealth Stadium. UF owns a 22-game winning streak against the Wildcats.


Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow, safety Major Wright and others fly separately to Lexington

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Florida quarterback Tim Tebow might be playing sick on Saturday. 

The senior quarterback, along with safety Major Wright and other Gators apparently suffering from flu-like symptoms, flew to Lexington, Ky., on Friday aboard a different flight than the rest of their teammates, according to a story first reported by the Independent Florida Alligator, UF's student newspaper. The Alligator reported the story at 12:37 a.m. on Saturday, citing an anonymous source.


September 25, 2009

According to Vegas, odds are good Gators will meet Canes in national title game

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Just touched down in horse country. Beautiful place, Lexington.

As soon as you leave the airport here you're reminded that college football is actually third on the sports pecking order in this part of the world. First is horses, then college basketball then -- a distant third -- is college football.

The skies are overcast this afternoon and rain is expected tomorrow morning. It could be sloppy for kickoff. The rain probably favors the Gators. (Need I remind anyone of Florida 45, Florida State 14 last season.)

Anyway, some of y'all have already picked up on this but in case anyone hasn't noticed my national college football column in today's paper was about the possibility of a Gators vs. Canes match-up in the BCS National Championship. Here's a link to the column, CLICK ME!

I interviewed the COO of Las Vegas Sports Consultants and he supplied me with betting odds for a number of Gators topics, including the national title game, the Heisman Trophy ceremony and the mythical point spread if Florida played Miami this Saturday.

It makes for good water-cooler discussion, so leave a comment on the blog.


September 24, 2009

Florida Gators stars Major Wright and Joe Haden miss Thursday's practice with illness

GAINESVILLE -- The Florida Gators secondary was hit hard on Thursday by the illness that is spreading through the football team.

According to Florida coach Urban Meyer, cornerback Joe Haden and free safety Major Wright did not practice on Thursday. With addition of Wright and Haden, 11 players have been sick in the last week, according to Meyer, including six starters. Meyer said that Wright and Haden "should be fine" for Saturday's game against Kentucky.

Asked who would play if Haden was unavailable, Meyer said: "If Haden isn't going, I'm not going." Senior cornerbacks Wondy Pierre-Louis or Markihe Anderson are Haden's likely replacements.

Meyer indicated on Thursday that Florida might be dealing with two different viruses, one with respiratory symptoms and one that causes stomach problems. Florida's coach also said on Thursday that the football team has had over 35 cases of sick players in the last three or four weeks.

"There are two different things we're dealing with now," Meyer said. "It's respiratory and it's a stomach issue. The guys with the respiratory, they've just been real cautious."

--Strong-side linebacker A.J. Jones, who was sick earlier this week, practiced on Thursday.

--Linebacker Brandon Spikes (Achilles heel) was seen limping heavily with his left shoe off after Thursday's practice. His status for Saturday's game is questionable.


The Blog Swap: Trading questions with Kentucky beat writer Brett Dawson

GAINESVILLE -- It's blog swap time. Gator Clause caught up with Kentucky Wildcats beat writer Brett Dawson of the Louisville Courier-Journal on Thursday and exchanged five questions about Saturday's opponents. I answered five questions about Florida and Mr. Dawson returned the favor, answering five questions about Kentucky.

Here's a link to Brett Dawson's blog, where you can read my answers to his questions, CLICK ME! (If it's not posted yet, then keep trying throughout the day.) Brett Dawson is one of the premier sportswriters in the country and we're honored to have his insights grace this blog!

And now ... five questions for a Kentucky Wildcats beat writer:

5. Kentucky has got some pretty impressive losing streaks in the SEC. Would UK rather defeat Florida or Tennessee this season?

Florida. The Tennessee streak is longer (24 games to 22; the first- and second-longest active streaks in what I still erroneously call Division I-A), but the Gators are the nation's No.1 team, and Kentucky remembers the shot in the arm the program got in 2007 when it beat then-No.1 (and eventual BCS champ) LSU. A win against the Vols would be sweet for the Wildcats, but for now the Gators are the biggest target in college football for anyone, and that includes UK.

4. Does UK have the defensive personnel to copy Tennessee's game plan against the Gators -- shut down the passing game?

The short answer is probably not. Last week, Louisville picked on what was expected to be a really strong Kentucky secondary. I still think that secondary is good enough to give anyone (including Florida) some problems. But I know Tennessee didn't give Tim Tebow a lot of time to make decisions, and Kentucky hasn't gotten any real pressure on the quarterback in its first two games. Defensive coordinator Steve Brown doesn't like to blitz, preferring to get pressure with his front four, but there's been no indication so far that those guys can get to the quarterback against an offensive line the caliber of Florida's.

3. Three keys to victory for the Cats?

First, don't turn the ball over. Kentucky ran four offensive plays in the third quarter last Saturday against Louisville and still gave up only six points. They do that against Florida and the Gators won't be settling for field goals. Second, don't miss tackles. Sounds simple, but the Cats' tackling against Louisville was putrid, and Louisville is no Florida. Any missed tackle can turn into a touchdown. Third, take a few chances. Kentucky isn't a trick-play team, and you won't see much of that. But don't be surprised if the Cats put Randall Cobb at quarterback in the Wildcat formation more than they have the first two games in order to create a little confusion for the Florida defense.

2. Score prediction?

I'm thinking something like Florida 42, Kentucky 13. But I think I've been officially declared the Worst Newspaper Guy in History at Predicting Scores. If I haven't been, I should be.

1. I'm flying into Lexington early on Friday (as are many Florida fans). What's the best state or national park near the town?

The best thing the state has to offer is Mammoth Cave National Park, but that's a long drive (2.5 hours) for a day trip. For a shorter drive (about 45 miles), your best bet is Natural Bridge State Resort Park in Slade, Ky.


September 23, 2009

Florida Gators safety Will Hill misses practice time to be with his new family

GAINESVILLE -- Florida Gators sophomore safety Will Hill missed time with the team this week to be with his new family. Hill became a father earlier this week. 

"It's gotten some of his time and attention as rightfully it should, so it's a real good thing for him and he's very excited about that," Florida safeties coach Chuck Heater said. "You got to manage that and get back to do the job here but also take care of what he needs to care of there. Things happen in life every day. It could be school. It could be something personal like that. It could be any number of things. It's all about managing it and being able to balance it."

Hill, a New Jersey native, is listed as a starter at strong safety and free safety on the Gators' depth chart. He played mostly nickelback against Tennessee and recorded five tackles. Ahmad Black started at strong safety and Major Wright started at free safety.

Heater said on Wednesday that Florida's coaching staff worked with Hill this week, allowing him to focus on his responsibilities as a new father.

"You let a guy do what he needs to do," Heater said. "You got to let him do what he needs to do and know that we support him and the time that he has. When they come back you try to get them ready to play. That's the right way to handle it and that's certainly what we did in this case."


September 22, 2009

Six more Florida Gators go down with the flu

GAINESVILLE -- The flu blug is spreading.

Six more Gators came down with the illness on Tuesday. The list includes starting strong-side linebacker A.J. Jones. The others: Mike Gillislee (freshman running back), Josh Evans (freshman safety), Justin Williams (redshirt junior receiver), Shawn Schmeider (redshirt junior offensive lineman) and Earl Okine (redshirt freshman defensive lineman).

 "We’re battling a little bit," Florida coach Urban Meyer said.

Receivers coach Billy Gonzales wore a germ mask and gloves during Tuesday's practice. Gonzales had a fever of 104 degrees on Sunday night, according to Meyer. (Meyer also didn't look too good but he didn't say he was sick.)

Meyer said that the sick players were held out of Tuesday's practices. Florida's coach also said that defensive end Jermaine Cunningham and running back Jeff Demps, who were ill this weekend, still are not "100 percent."

Receiver Deonte Thompson (hamstring) and linebacker Brandon Spikes (Achilles tendon) did not practice.


Florida Gators a 24-point favorite against Kentucky; Tim Tebow encourages Wildcats; Plus our usual dose of snarkiness

GAINESVILLE -- The University of Florida football team only scored 23 points against Tennessee last week but the Gators are 24-point favorites against this Saturday's opponent, the Kentucky Wildcats.

Florida has won 22 in a row against Kentucky, dating back to 1986. Florida quarterback Tim Tebow was asked about the streak -- or, rather, streaks in general -- on Monday. While in high school, Tebow lost four in a row against St. Augustine. The quarterback expects Kentucky's best shot this Saturday and doesn't think the streak will make a difference.

“[Kentucky's current players] weren’t on those teams," Tebow said. "They are a new team, a fresh team. They are going to put that behind them and say, 'That’s not us.' Those teams did that, that’s not us. This isn’t the Gator team that beat all those teams. We’re going to go in there and show we’re a new team and we have something to prove.”

Gotta love Tebow. He even gives opponents pep talks. Kentucky (2-0) defeated rival Louisville 31-27 on Saturday.

For those faithful readers who visit this blog regularly but still need someone to guide you through all of our great coverage, I'll lend a helping hand now:

--If you want to read about the latest nonsense between Urban Meyer and Lane Kiffin, the CLICK ME! It's in today's Miami Herald. Included in that report is a list of coaches and players sick with the flu.

--If you want to read a comprehensive follow-up to the Tennessee game, then CLICK ME! In this story, we talk about the missed tackles against Tennessee, the flu, Brandon Spikes' injury, etc.

--If you want to read an insightful supplement to that follow story, including five things we've learned about the Gators since the season opener, then CLICK ME! This is must read for any Gators fan.

--If you want to read about the precautions the Florida Gators are taking to prevent a flu outbreak, then CLICK ME!

--If you want to read about Florida's sick assistant football coach and worry that he infected all of UF's skill players this weekend, then CLICK ME!

--If you want to read about Urban Meyer's Week 3 champions club, then CLICK ME!

--If you want to compare the similarities to Yahoo!Sports columnist Dan Wetzel's Monday column on the Florida Gators to Joseph Goodman's game story, on Florida 23, Tennessee 13 (which was published on Sunday and written moments after the game) then first CLICK ME! and then CLICK ME!

--For complaints about this blog both ridiculous and obnoxious, please click below on the "comments" field and drop us a message.

--If you're the guy who stole my bike this weekend, know this you patheticly deadbeat riffraff, scum-off-my-shoe mucus brain: I will take justice into my own hands!


September 21, 2009

Va. Tech-Miami might be the next best thing to a Gators-Canes match up

GAINESVILLE -- It's too bad the Gators and Canes don't play this year. After the first three weeks of the season, the two on-again, off-again rivals appear to be a little more equal than last year. Who would win if the two teams played this season? Who would be favored? We'll probably never know, but it's fun to speculate. I'm putting the spread at Florida by 4.

For those wondering how the Canes would fair against the 2009 Gators, the best measuring stick might be this Saturday when Miami travels to Blacksburg, Va., for an away game against always-tough Virginia Tech. (Here me out, Gators and Canes fans, before you pound out a nasty blog comment.)

The Hokies are currently a top 15 team (No.11 in the AP) led by a dual-threat quarterback, run-oriented offense, excellent defenders and above-average special teams. Sound familiar? Yep, sounds like the Gators.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm rather certain that the Gators are better than Virginia Tech. Hokies quarterback Tyrod Taylor is no Tim Tebow and the Gators' offensive line and running backs are considerably better in Gainesville than they are in Blacksburg. But that doesn't mean we can't compare Virginia Tech and Florida. 

Virginia Tech is a poor man's Florida in nearly every way. If Miami loses to the Hokies this weekend, then we won't have to speculate about a mythical Florida-Miami match up anymore. If the Canes trounce the Hokies, then the debate will continue!


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