James out for Sugar Bowl
Published: Monday, December 21, 2009 at 11:23 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, December 21, 2009 at 11:23 a.m.
Florida will be without starting senior wide receiver and star kick returner Brandon James for the Jan. 1 Sugar Bowl.
Brandon James career
* Owns the SEC all-time kick return mark (combined kickoff and punt returns) at 4,089
* Set the SEC record for kickoff return yards at 2,718 yards on 112 returns
* UF’s all-time punt return yards leader with 1,371
* Has 12 punt returns of 30 yards or more in his career, including four punt return touchdowns of 74-plus yards
UF coach Urban Meyer said Monday that James recently underwent foot surgery and will not play in the game.
Meyer said James' role in the offense will be filled by tailback Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey. Demps and Rainey also will return kicks and punts, along with cornerback Joe Haden possibly returning punts.
"(James) is a heck of a player, especially in the return game," Meyer said. "The good thing is Demps and Rainey are also capable guys. I'm kind of excited to watch them go get it."
James, who holds 11 school records for kickoff and punt returns, finished the season with 109 yards rushing, 215 yards receiving and a score, 756 yards and a touchdown on kickoff returns and 244 yards on punt returns.
James is the only injured player to come out of UF's four pre-bowl practices over the weekend. The Gators broke for Christmas after Monday morning's practice and will report back to campus Saturday for the trip to New Orleans.
Meyer said he was pleased with his team's effort in the pre-bowl practices.
"Yeah, real pleased," he said. "I like the attitude, I like the effort. We're facing a hell of a (Cincinnati) team. You don't realize how good they are until you saturate yourself with them. They're a really good team."
Cincinnati will be attempting to do what Utah did a year ago, upset the SEC runner-up in the Sugar Bowl. A year ago, Alabama appeared flat in its loss to Utah coming off the disappointing loss to UF in the SEC Championship Game.
UF will try to avoid a similar letdown. Meyer admitted Monday the Gators still have not completely gotten over the 32-13 loss to the Tide in Atlanta.
"I think the only way to get that completely out of your system is to go win the next game," Meyer said. "To say it's completely out, no, I don't think so. I think the important thing this time of year is to go enjoy your family and be grateful for what you've got. This is what it's all about."
When asked how difficult it is to get re-focused after the loss to Alabama, Meyer said, "This is a tough one because of the significance of it. I talked to a couple of Alabama coaches (about it). It's all about who you play, about how hard you practice and about the leadership on your team. That's all to be determined."
As far as possible academic casualties for the bowl game, Meyer said it was too early to tell because final grades for the semester have not been posted yet. Meyer said at this point, no players are suspended for the game (for academic or other reasons). "I think everybody is good to go," he said.
It appears Meyer and the Gators will head to New Orleans not knowing who the new defensive coordinator will be.
"I've talked to people, but we're not close (to making a hire)," Meyer said.
Charlie Strong, who accepted the Louisville job Dec. 9, will continue to coach the defense through the bowl game.
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.
Comments are currently unavailable on this article