Notebook: Harvin improving
Published: Monday, December 1, 2008 at 9:40 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, December 1, 2008 at 9:40 p.m.
Gator Nation could be closer to taking a collective sigh of relief after some positive news on Florida star receiver Percy Harvin.
UF coach Urban Meyer said Monday that the junior wide out is looking better after suffering a ankle sprain in the second quarter against Florida State and is wearing a protective boot on his right foot. He is still listed as questionable for the Southeastern Conference Championship against Alabama Saturday.
"The great news in the training room today, it's very positive, very positive, a lot of thumbs up, including from the player, a big thumbs up, a smile on his face," Meyer said. "He's as competitive a human being as I've ever been around.
"He plays well in this game. He made that very clear to me a couple thousand times in the last two days. I love him."
Coincidentally, Harvin was knocked out of the FSU game in 2006 when his head collided with a Seminole linebacker’s knee. Harvin returned for the 2006 SEC Championship against Arkansas a week later and earned Most Valuable Player honors after catching five passes for 62 yards and a touchdown and rushing for 105 yards and a touchdown on six carries.
Meyer said Harvin won’t practice until later this week.
“He's doing everything he can possibly do, and our training staff's the best in college football,” Meyer said. “That's all positive. The negative is it's a sprained ankle, and we know what sprained ankles mean. We're going to boot him and he will not do anything until later in the week."
Replacing Harvin is no easy task, but Meyer said he’s confident his team has enough talent to keep the offense rolling against the Crimson Tide. The Gators scored 31 points with Harvin sidelined against FSU.
In other injury news, Meyer said redshirt sophomore defensive lineman Brandon Antwine is questionable for Saturday’s game as well. Antwine injured his knee against FSU, and Meyer said he didn’t move around at all on Sunday. The Gators are thinking of experimenting with using sophomore end Carlos Dunlap inside.
Fellow sophomore defensive lineman Lawrence Marsh (knee) should be 100 percent Saturday, Meyer said.
One of the most unheralded positions on the field will be the most important come Saturday’s 4 p.m. kickoff.
“The offensive lines are the two best offensive lines in the Southeastern Conference playing against each other,” Meyer said. “Who’s better? We’ll find out.”
Aside from the way the Tide chooses to defend the Gators with a hobbled Harvin, Meyer said his biggest concern for this weekend is how his defense will get past an Alabama offensive line that features All-SEC selections Andre Smith and Antoine Caldwell.
The battle upfront could be the difference for these teams because both are fueled by their running games. The Gators sport the No. 1 rushing offense in the SEC (237.1 yards per game) with Alabama in second (201.5 yards per game).
While the Gators use smaller, stealthier backs, the Tide’s running game is all about power and wearing down its opponents.
The Tide has the third- and sixth-best runners in the SEC in Glen Coffee (1,235 yards and nine touchdowns on 199 carries) and Mark Ingram (681 yards and 11 touchdowns on 127 carries).
Alabama and Florida rank first and third in rushing defense in the SEC giving up 74 and 103 yards a game.
“At the end of the day, the team that’s most effective running the football is going to win the game,” Meyer said.
Offense: Louis Murph, Tim Tebow, Percy Harvin, Riley Cooper, Carl Moore, Brandon James, Emmanuel Moody, Aaron Hernandez, David Nelson, Deonte Thompson and Chris Rainey.
Players of the Game: Phil Trautwein, Mike and Maurkice Pouncey, Jason Watkins and Carl Johnson.
Defense: Jermaine Cunningham, Brandon Spikes, Janoris Jenkins, Ahmad Black, Major Wright, Ryan Stamper.
Player of the Game: Carlos Dunlap
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