Ron Zook let his players go Thursday and he and his staff will decide whether or not to go out and recruit this weekend. The decision will be based solely on whether or not all recruiting coaches can get on the road and see there prospective areas without any problems caused by Hurricane Frances.
Only a handful of teams will play eleven consecutive weeks and most coaches will tell you that a break anywhere in the schedule is always good. Playing that many weeks in a row will be a good barometer for an upset. With UF's schedule looking favorable it his highly unlikely this scheduling quirk could trip them up. It appears this season could come down to four games Tennessee, LSU, Georgia and FSU. UF would not have had an open date before any of those games anyway. I know that Gator coaches would like an open date during the season and many probably would have been in favor of the November 27th rescheduling. I think the fact that UF has not won in Tallahassee since 1986 would be a reason to not have the game after the annual showdown. I am not sure what the feel in the Swamp would be if UF came back with another disappointing loss. That date can, however, be used as an open date to get ready for the SEC title game if the Gators can capture the East.
Florida has had some good fortune with open weeks in the past, while teams like Georgia who have not had open weeks have missed key players in games with Florida due to injury. The Gators do get Middle Tennessee at a good time in the schedule because it will follow the LSU game. That will be an emotional day in the Swamp and win or lose UF will probably be a bit flat the next weekend. The Gators then travel to Starkville where they have struggled in recent past before getting Georgia in Jacksonville. The reason you hate to have your "open" week now is because you just finished grinding the guys for camp and the first four games is the first phase of the season. The second phase or middle is where you would like to have a break so that you can finish strong in the third and final phase.
This and That…
The Middle Tennessee game will be the fourth consecutive home game for the Gators during the mid season. In 1992 the Gators played three consecutive home games then Georgia in Jacksonville and another two home games in row afterwards. UF won all five home games and the game in Jacksonville. The last time UF had four home games in a row was 1988 under Galen Hall. UF defeated Indiana St., Mississippi St., and LSU, who was ranked #14 before losing at home to Memphis St. 17-11. This sounds a lot like this season's schedule with the third game being LSU and the fourth a small school from Tennessee, sounds like trouble doesn't it?
Without being able to serve the one game suspension against Middle, Gator linebacker Channing Crowder and safety Jarvis Herring will most likely be out for Eastern Michigan. For the second consecutive year, Crowder will make his debut in a prime time road game. This may be more significant for Herring who is expected to be a starter and a key component of the secondary. Herring would have liked to have gotten a start under his belt before the trip to Knoxville. Eastern Michigan is a MAC school in transition with a new coach and not much talent. It will be the first meeting between the schools and it looks like new Coach Jeff Genyk will debut his "spread" offense this week against Buffalo.
The health of some players will be much better next week when they face Eastern. Javier Estopinan, Todd McCollough, Tavares Washington and Deshawn Wynn should all be near 100% for the opener. Florida will not have classes Friday and with Monday being Labor Day the football team will takes some time off and have plenty of preparation time on Monday. One advantage to playing Middle later in the season is that UF's depth should be clearly defined and it could be a game where players will see significant playing time that would not have in this weekend's.
More from the scheduling
Minnesota plays eleven games in a row to begin the season in the Big Ten and last year Kansas State tripped up in there long schedule losing to Marshall at home. Vanderbilt will play 10 games in a row, Kentucky and Auburn will each play nine games in a row during the regular season.
Stat of the Week: 40. UF has totaled more than 40 points in each of it's last six openers.