Monday, September 28, 2009

A million people in Florida are holding their breath

Michigan's hopes this year ride on the right arm (and occasionally the legs) of Tate Forcier, so when he went to the turf in ugly fashion Saturday for the second time this year, my heart jumped into my throat. I was greatly relieved when he came back in a few plays later to finish the eventual game-winning drive -- his bruised/sprained shoulder shouldn't be anything more than a minor setback -- but the brief sense of panic wasn't something I enjoyed.

So I can't even imagine what it must have felt like to be a Florida fan on Saturday, watching in horror while Tim Tebow lay motionless on the field after hitting his head on a lineman's knee late in the third quarter of the Gators' obliteration of Kentucky.

Actually, I'm guessing most Gators fans looked a lot like Tebow: staring blankly into space, vomiting, mumbling, etc. Those people will be asking two questions tomorrow:

1. Have you heard any more about Tebow?
2. Do you have any Xanax?

There's no player in the country who's more important to his team; if college football had an MVP award, Tebow would be the unanimous choice. That became clear against Tennessee, when the running game was contained and the inexperienced receivers couldn't get open. When the Gators need to move the ball against a good defense, their one and only option is the 250-pound tank who's taking the snaps.

I don't doubt that Urban Meyer can adjust the offense to suit backup QB John Brantley -- the guy won a championship with Chris Leak as the starter just a few years ago -- but if Tebow misses any game time, that's gonna be a hell of a transition for a team that's been reliant on basically a wildcat package for the last two years.

This quote probably doesn't mean much ...
"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," Meyer said.
... but it's not exactly the "Tim will be ready to roll next week" comment everyone in Gainesville was hoping for.

Personally, I'll be pretty surprised if Tebow isn't back on the field after Florida's bye (which comes at an incredibly convenient time). I've never seen a QB who needs to win like Tebow does, so there's just no way he'll be standing on the sidelines against LSU (in Baton Rouge) for what's probably the biggest regular-season game of his senior year. The medical staff might put him in a straitjacket if his mental health is in danger, but if playing is an option, he'll be in the game.

If it isn't an option, though ... well, that's when things would get interesting. Death Valley wouldn't exactly be an ideal place for Brantley's first career start, and a loss there would throw everything into chaos. Would LSU be elevated to No. 1? Would Florida be heavily penalized for a Tebow-less loss? Would Colt McCoy become the runaway Heisman winner by default?

I don't root for Florida very often, but to be honest, I don't really want to find out the answers to those questions. It sucks to see a great team have its season shattered by a fluky injury, and Tebow deserves better than to miss out on an important chunk of his senior year.

Get well soon, Tim.

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