Caldwell Loss Easier to Absorb

Two years ago Andre "Bubba" Caldwell suffered a broken leg against Tennessee and with him went pretty much all of the big play capability in the Florida offense. Oh, the Gators still managed to have a good bit of success on their way to a 9-3 season, but it wasn't the same offense after Caldwell was sidelined.

Well, once again it's Tennessee week and once again the Gators have to adjust to losing the speedy receiver from Tampa. But this time around Florida has the reinforcements necessary to compensate.

It's not like Caldwell won't be missed, he will be. In the first two games Caldwell finally showed signs of being the explosive threat he was before his broken leg. He had caught four passes for 111 yards and run the ball four times for 19 yards and a touchdown. His presence is more valuable than those numbers would indicate. Percy Harvin, Jarred Fayson, Louis Murphy and Riley Cooper all have an easier time of it when Bubba is on the field. Still, with those weapons, plus Cornelius Ingram and Kestahn Moore, there is no shortage of talent for Tim Tebow to operate with.

The worst thing about the injury is the setback to Caldwell himself. Bubba Caldwell fully expected to be in the NFL two years ago. After a 43 catch sophomore season in 2004, he was electrifying early in 2005, catching ten passes for 148 yards and carrying five times for 64 more in the first three games of the season. He was also establishing himself as a threat in the kickoff return game. The broken leg assured he would be a college football player in 2006, and while he had an excellent season, he did not have the same explosiveness. He decided against the NFL, figuring his stock would go way up if he could get that back, and I agreed. Now a sprained medial collateral ligament is not a dramatic injury, but it is a setback for a guy who has had more than his share. Bubba Caldwell is a guy who deserves a break, pun not intended.

Caldwell career stats:

133 receptions (9th UF history)

1,699 yards (12.8), 9 touchdowns

33 rushes, 254 yards (7.7), 4 touchdowns

37 kickoff returns, 752 yards (20.3)

All Purpose Yards - 2,705 (24th UF history)

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