Instant Analysis - Sept. 26
Florida 41 ... Kentucky 7
There's a reason John Brantley was one of the top recruits in the nation a few years ago,
and now it's time to show why.
Florida wasn't ranked preseason No. 1 by a landslide
because of Tim Tebow. His return certainly helped
the debate, but Florida was put in the top spot
because of a devastating defense that returned
everyone on the two deep. The offensive line was
expected to be even better, all the running backs
were back, and the receiving corps was supposed to
replace Percy Harvin and Louis Murphy with new
stars. Of course, Tebow is the veteran and the
ringleader, but with Brantley under center, Florida
still might be the No. 1 team in the country, or at
least a close No. 2.
That's not to say Tebow can't come back in two weeks
(Florida has a bye week) and play at LSU. Concussions, even
an ugly looking one like Tebow suffered, can clear
up relatively quickly (but it's the successive
brain-smashes against the skull that become the real
problem). But if he's not right and if everyone
around the situation, meaning the adults and not
Tebow himself, make sure the health and well-being
of No. 15 comes first and foremost, then Brantley
should be able to pick up the slack.
Brantley might have more NFL potential than Tebow.
He's a tall, pure passer who could've gone anywhere
and start right away (he was the Gatorade National
Player of the Year), but he had always dreamed of becoming a Gator after his dad and brother played for UF, and with former star quarterback Kerwin Bell his high school coach.
He's good, and he has a great team around him.
LSU is mediocre. Arkansas doesn't have a defense.
Mississippi State isn't in the same league as
Florida, Georgia isn't playing well, and Vanderbilt
has no offense. If Urban Meyer really is a superior
head coach and worth all the money he's making, he
should be able to get his loaded team through the
next five games, before the bear-trap of a road game
at South Carolina, with or without Tebow. Florida
can win on defense, athleticism on offense, and yes,
Brantley. There is no excuse if Florida doesn't win
the national championship, even without Tebow.
There's no such thing as "just a concussion," and
coming back from one has nothing to do with being
tough. Make sure his brain is 100% healed, and don't
toy with this. This isn't a Sam Bradford shoulder or
a Jimmy Clausen toe. 95% isn't good enough, and
there's no need to play around. Brantley can get the
Very Strange. That was my first reaction to seeing Tim Tebow struggle to get to his feet and need help getting to the sidelines in Kentucky.
How many times over the last four years have we witnessed Tebow take—and administer—punishment without so much as a limp in his giddyup? Seemingly indestructible, it was just a visual oddity seeing him in such a vulnerable state. Regardless of your rooting interest, you hope we don't have a second marquee quarterback in less than a month miss time with an injury. It's bad for the game.
If Tebow is going to get injured, it couldn't happen at a more palatable time. Florida was never threatened in Lexington, and next week is a bye before the big trip to Baton Rouge. Oh, and if for some reason he's pressed into action, John Brantley is not your ordinary caddy. The sophomore can play the position, and the Gators will still the move ball if he's behind center.
1) Instead of yapping with Lane Kiffin (when he had no need to do so), maybe Urban Meyer should have focused a little bit more on the well-being of his sick quarterback. Florida led 34-7 in the third quarter, and Tebow was still playing? With the flu????? What a breathtaking blunder by Meyer—a lot like the stupid stuff Pete Carroll has done with QBs in recent years (not benching John David Booty two years ago against Stanford, despite finger injury; not mentally prepping Aaron Corp to start against Washington last week). Even the best coaches, being human, have their brains spin sideways sometimes.
2) As for Tebow himself, the Gators have a perfectly-timed bye week. Let's see where we stand after the first few series at LSU on Oct. 10 in Baton Rouge.
Say what you want about the talent Florida has accumulated over the past couple years. Extol the virtues of coach Urban Meyer and his no-nonsense (unless Lane Kiffin is nearby) approach to coaching. But the Gators aren't the Gators, at least these past few seasons, without Tim Tebow, and the sight of his being carted off the field Saturday night after a big hit had to make UF fans as nauseous as their hero was himself. In a best-case scenario, Tebow has a mild concussion and is cleared for action in a week, two at most. But, if he suffers from post-concussion syndrome and is unable to run or work out, much less play QB, then the Gators are cooked. This is the personality of the team at stake here, and without Tebow, the '09 Florida football edition is done. Had he left for the NFL after last season, the Gators would likely be fine, because they would have had the necessary time to develop a new identity. To invest everything in Tebow and to see him miss appreciable time or to have him be uncertain in the level of intensity he is able to bring would be crushing.