Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Can I bet on Tebow playing?

I'll be focused on the Michigan-Iowa game Saturday night, but apparently there's another game taking place at the same time, and some guy might not play or something. I don't know, I haven't heard much about it (your sarcasm meter should be off the charts by now).

Urban Meyer says it'll likely be a game-time decision as to whether Tim Tebow can play against LSU, but with Tebow participating in practice Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday with no complications, it's pretty clear that my initial assessment still holds true: 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.

Is there a possibility that we'll see more of John Brantley than usual? Yes, absolutely. I think he'll get in and be put to immediate use throwing the ball downfield, if for no other reason than to give Tebow a breather. It also wouldn't hurt to loosen up the LSU defense a bit, especially after Tennessee demonstrated some pretty effective methods of containing the Gators' running game. And don't be surprised to see a healthy dose of the Wildcat (or, as Orson at EDSBS demands that we call it, the Midgetwing or the Vanilla Pilla Killa), with Brandon James, Chris Rainey or Jeffery Demps taking the snaps.

If the doctors step in and Tebow can't play at all (or if he plays like he still has a concussion), I don't see Florida scoring much on offense -- the defense and special teams might be able to chip in, but Brantley just doesn't have the experience or the rapport with his receivers to ask him to step in and win a game like this one in Death Valley. He could, but I wouldn't bet on it. I know a lot of people think LSU is overrated -- at No. 4, that's probably true -- but I'll be shocked if it isn't a close game.

What'll be really interesting is what happens if Tebow plays some but is ineffective, either due to the concussion or just rustiness. There was already a bit of voter backlash after the uninspiring win over Tennessee, so what happens if the offense continues to struggle and it actually results in a loss?

On the flip side, how much would Florida be penalized for a Tebow-less loss on the road to a top-five team? I can't imagine that they'd drop very far in the polls -- probably not behind Virginia Tech or Boise State -- and as long as they're still in the top four, the Gators would control their own destiny (LSU and Alabama play each other, so a 12-1 Florida team would have beaten the winner of that game in the SEC championship and would be ranked ahead of everyone except Texas, assuming the Longhorns go unbeaten).

That creates sort of an interesting dilemma: Florida might actually be better off giving Tebow a week to fully recover and playing Brantley, because the penalty for a loss would be less severe than if Tebow plays but doesn't perform like his usual self. I'm sure Urban Meyer has taken that into consideration, but trying to reconcile that idea with this guy ...

... and his incredible need to win probably isn't possible.

Tebow will find a way to get on the field, even if he has to wear a gigantic foam helmet to do so. His mission to end disease, preach Christianity, date the hottest girl on Earth, win a gazillion national championships and generally be better at everything than everyone just wouldn't be complete without personally fixing Urban Meyer's 0-2 mark in Baton Rouge.

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