Some of life’s greatest discoveries were by accident, while the greatest inventions in history have been born of necessity.
With the frightening scene of Tim Tebow lying motionless on the field in Lexington on Saturday fresh in the minds of college football fans, could Tebow’s injury actually be the thing that gives the Gators the best chance of beating LSU on a Saturday night?
The LSU game is the one that many prognosticators have pegged as Florida’s biggest test of the regular season: in a hostile stadium, at night...where Florida hasn’t won in a long time.
Yet it would have been a bigger test for the Gators had Tebow not gotten injured.
Now, LSU must prepare a game plan that focuses on two potential starting quarterbacks—Tebow and 2006 Gatorade National High School Player of the Year John Brantley.
Will Tebow recover in time to start against LSU? In the weeks and days leading up to the showdown with Les Miles' squad, don’t expect the Gator coaching staff to illuminate the press about Tebow’s true condition.
There will be many contradictory and misleading quotes from Gator coaches and players regarding the health of Tebow, a la close Urban Meyer confidant, the super-secretive Bill Belichick.
The misdirection on Tebow’s playing status employed by Florida’s coaching staff will subdivide the time that LSU has to prepare for a known starting QB, and it will help to mitigate the intense media pressure that Brantley would be faced with if he were the announced starter.
For LSU to game plan for John Brantley, they would do well to read "Brantley shines in Florida's Spring Game" recounting Brantley’s sensational 2009 Orange and Blue spring game.
New offensive coordinator Steve Addazio raved about Brantley’s skills, "He had a great spring, you watch his presence in the pocket, his poise. He took a shot under the chin and delivered a strike. All the signs and evidence of a guy that's really developing into one heck of a football player.
"He's a legitimate player, and we have a lot of confidence in him. That was a major deal for the spring, and I think the exclamation point was out there for him today."
Brantley may be the best quarterback in the country that most people haven’t heard of...but he’s a winner.
According to the PR Newswire, "Over the course of his high school career, Brantley completed 61.5 percent of his passes for 6,802 yards, and his 99 touchdowns were countered by a mere 14 interceptions.
"As a junior, Brantley led the Celtics to an undefeated season and the Class 2B state title. In his two years as a starter, Brantley posted a 27-1 record and led a high-powered offense that outscored opponents 1,354-140."
The biggest knock on Florida this season has been the inconsistent play at wide receiver. If Brantley starts, expect one or two new names to emerge as explosive playmakers: Frankie Hammond and either Omarius Hines or Deonte Thompson.
These players have developed a rapport with Brantley, playing with him on the second team in practice. They have a greater comfort level with one another due to their practice time together. Hammond was Brantley’s biggest receiving threat in the 2009 Spring Game, reeling in four catches for 131 yards and two touchdowns.
These young stars in waiting are primed to burst on the national scene with a quarterback who is less of a threat to run the ball and more suited to throw strikes to the Florida playmakers running loose in the LSU secondary.
Expect to see more playing time for Emmanuel Moody, as he’ll take the field in short yardage situations to compensate for the absence of the best short yardage back in college football...Tim Tebow.
Also expect Aaron Hernandez to have a huge game, as the offensive coaching staff will really look to maximize the mismatches that Hernandez creates. Moody will break his long scoreless streak and account for two touchdowns.
It may sound counterintuitive, but these seasoned Gator veterans will lead a poised group into Death Valley—a group that will be more relaxed without Tebow than with him starting.
The team will adopt an “Us versus the world” mentality and form a strong bond that teams develop when playing through adversity. New receivers will emerge onto the national consciousness, and the Florida defense will play a monster game.
A victory by the Gators, in a hostile stadium at night, on national television with a first time starting quarterback, will further cement the status of this Gator team as the best in the land...and possibly the best of all time.
Tim Tebow, please get well and play again soon.
But not against LSU.
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