As the Florida Gators get ready to finish a grueling SEC season, a huge question remains eight games into the season at the place kicker position. Senior Chris Hetland is healthy but has been off this year only making one attempt all season. Head Coach Urban Meyer has had the kickers competing every day, and has finally made a decision. He won’t make that decision public till game time.
The 1-7 mark for Hetland has perplexed Meyer because he made some huge kicks last season and had a good season overall. Despite that there has been a competition going on to try and get the best kicker on the field. A decision has been made, but Meyer is not willing to say who just yet.
“We are going to wait till game time,” Meyer said after practice on Thursday. “I kind of know who it is, but I just want to wait. I have an idea and I think they know as well because we charted every kick. I want to see what happens on game day.”
According to Meyer it is a close race. A third guy has emerged and is now kicking the ball rather well.
“It is a good battle for it,” he said. “There are three in a battle for it. (Jonathan) Phillips is in a battle for it, he is getting better and is a talented guy.
One guy that the staff is planning on opening up playing time to is freshman quarterback Tim Tebow. The super talented freshman is a fan favorite and the staff has been claiming he is ready for more action. That is the plan for Saturday.
“We are going to let him play football a little bit,” Meyer said of Tebow.
The Gators remain rather healthy as they have for most of the season. Last year, most of the middle and late season was marred by injuries to critical skill positions. Right now it appears one major player has an injury that won’t keep him off the field, but will limit his play.
Freshman wide receiver Percy Harvin has been a star for the Gators but a lingering ankle sprain has kept him from full speed for a long time. Meyer isn’t sure what to expect from his star freshman.
“He didn’t do much today,” Meyer said. “They told me he can play, but he is wrapped up pretty thick.”
The rest of the team that started the season looks intact and ready to go. The worries over Chris Leak and whatever head injury he might have sustained against Georgia is nothing according to Meyer. Just something that may have been sensationalized a bit in the press and by fans.
“Chris Leak is fine,” Meyer said. “I have been so busy, but my wife says it has been nuts (in the news) about that. He’s in great shape. He got hit during a football game, but he is good to go.”
Two other offensive injuries seem to be fine and both players returned to near full speed on Thursday. Freshman running back / electrifying kick returner Brandon James and star senior wide receiver Dallas Baker.
“Brandon James actually returned punts today and it looks like he is ready to go,” Meyer said. “Baker is ready to go, he took the sissy shirt off today and he is good.”