"When he comes back from his concussion (and it could be as soon as the LSU game this week), that big, veteran offensive line needs to take care of Tebow like never before. No blown assignments, no sacks, no blindside sacks on the quarterback. Whatever it takes, hold if you have to, but keep Tebow on his feet and away from as much contact as possible. There's no question, those fast, physical SEC defenses see Tebow as a target now. The coaching staff can do its part by taking some of the running responsibility off Tebow's plate. Tebow's the guy, and the Gators obviously need him to reach Atlanta."
-- Gainesville Sun beat reporter Robbie Andreu, on why "Protecting the Franchise" (Tebow) is the Gators' No. 1 priority for the rest of the season.
I have a couple of questions about this:
Quote: "Whatever it takes, hold if you have to, but keep Tebow on his feet and away from as much contact as possible."
Question: If the offensive line has to commit penalty after penalty in order to make sure that Tebow doesn't get hit -- presumably because Andreu is concerned about the effects to Tebow if he does get hit -- isn't that a tiny indication that Tebow might not be ready to come back? Getting hit is a reality for any QB -- if Tebow can't take a hit anymore, that is a HUGE problem.
Quote: "Tebow's the guy, and the Gators obviously need him to reach Atlanta."
Question: Obviously? Really? Sure, with a healthy Tebow, Florida is one of the great teams of all time... but isn't it possible that with Brantley playing in his place, Florida is still so stacked -- on defense, with RBs, on special teams, with coaching brilliance -- that they can still win every game the rest of the way? They'll be favored in them, even without Tebow. LSU is the toughest remaining game before Atlanta -- if Florida can win at LSU without Tebow, do they really need him to reach Atlanta? I don't think so.
Very important caveat: I'm NOT saying that Florida isn't better with a healthy Tebow than without him -- obviously, they are.
What I am saying is limited to the very specific point Andreu references: Tebow playing isn't a precondition for Florida getting to Atlanta. If Tebow's season ended last week at Kentucky -- ack! god forbid! -- the Gators would still be favored to reach Atlanta. Even without Tebow. They are just that loaded.
I am as enthusiastic as everyone else that Tebow be fully recovered and help this team fulfill it's "all-time great" potential. But it is a testament to just how good this team is that even without Tebow, they could still march unbeaten into Atlanta -- and beyond.