For the second week in a row, Florida fans (and others) are wondering what in the world is going on with junior tailback Emmanuel Moody.
Two weeks ago against Troy, Moody fumbled in the first half, was pulled from the lineup and did not return to the game. We understand that one, given Urban Meyer’s zero tolerance for fumblers.
But what happened Saturday in the victory over Tennessee is a little bit of a mystery. Moody got in the game in the first half and looked really good, rushing three times for 33 yards, including a 23-yard burst in the first quarter. Then he disappeared again, never to return.
He didn’t fumble. He didn’t appear to blow any assignments or miss any blocks, transgressions that usually lead to bench time.
So what’s up with Moody?
I have a theory.
Once Meyer saw early in the game that Florida’s wide receivers were not going to be making any big plays against a tough Tennessee secondary, he put the game in the hands of quarterback TimTebow and tailback Chris Rainey. With Jeff Demps slowed by the flu, Rainey became UF’s best option for possibly breaking a big play.
Moody is a very strong, very hard runner who breaks tackles and can move the chains. But the Gators were desperate to find a home-run threat Saturday, andRainey was the guy. The thought here is that the coaches went with Rainey most of the second half because of his ability to make defenders miss and turn a 10-yard run into a long touchdown run. Rainey didn’t break any, but he played very well and got the most out of his carries.
With Demps expected to be back to 100 percent this week, the Gators will again have three tailbacks ready to go against Kentucky. Meyer said a week ago he had not lost confidence in Moody, and he showed it by playing him early in the UT game.
I have a feeling Moody will get his carries Saturday — and for the rest of the season.