Wright, Cooper likely out for Georgia

Senior safety Kyle Jackson lost his starting job earlier in the season to true freshman Major Wright. But after Wright suffered a broken thumb against Kentucky last weekend, it looks like the Jacksonville-native will get a chance to start in his hometown stadium.

"Major is probably not going to play," Urban Meyer said after Thursday's practice. "I believe Kyle is starting. He's had a good week at practice and so has Dorian [Munroe]. We expect Kyle to play well."

Also, Riley Cooper will most likely be watching from the sidelines as the Florida Gators take on the Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday afternoon at Jacksonville's Municipal Stadium. Cooper also has a broken finger and both he and Wright had surgery on Tuesday to repair the breaks.

Defensive lineman Carlton Medder who had a sore heel following the win in Lexington is expected to play on Saturday, but Meyer said he was unsure if Medder would start.

James could be the difference

In last year's meeting in Jacksonville, Brandon James had a couple of long returns, including a 38-yard return on the opening kick to set up the Gators' first score. Meyer thinks he'll have a big impact on Saturday's game as well, but not just in the return game.

"Brandon James is going to cover punts for us on Saturday because of his speed," Meyer said. "We need speed on the field. Brandon James is going to have a major impact in this football game."

James has never covered kicks before, so this will be a first. Meyer likes Georgia's punt returner Mikey Henderson as well who is averaging 13.5 yards per return and ranks third in the SEC.

"I think this game will have the two best returners in the SEC," Meyer said. "Their guy is really good and you think about two years ago Vernell Brown had two big returns to give Florida the ball on the plus side of the field. In this kind of game, like most big games, I think our coverage unit is going to be critical."

The players don't care

Saturday's "party" in Jacksonville may be a big deal for fans and the coaches, but for most players, it's just another game on the schedule.

"I think what makes it a rivalry is the length of the rivalry," Meyer said. "I don't think recent history really matters. Most of these kids don't remember anything. They remember last week and they know next week. That's about it. I think the fact that it's in Jacksonville, it's in an NFL stadium and it's a national rivalry, that's all that matters to these guys."

There are a few players on the Gator roster that will be a little more excited, though, for Saturday's game.

"Tebow does because he grew up there," Meyer said. "I think the people from Jacksonville, Brandon James has made a couple of comments to me, but I don't beat it to death because of the fact that we're in a race for the East and we're facing a very good team."

However, Meyer likes the big rivalry games.

"When I was at Notre Dame, we played USC every year, and as a coach you said, ‘Wow!'" Meyer said. "The players weren't worried. To them it was a game. When they get older, I think they'll look back. They're worried about the moment."

Notes

  • Brandon Antwine has been in the hospital for about 10 days, and it's likely he won't play for the rest of the season. But the injury to his lower back shouldn't be a detriment to his career. Said Meyer, "It's a muscular issue in his lower back that I've never seen before. He's doing much better now, and he's obviously got a lot of rehab to do. It's the deterioration of the muscles in his lower back. I guess Dustin Doe had it about a year and a half ago, not to the degree as this, so he should be fine."
  • Meyer hasn't watched a pro football game in quite a while, but he has a strong relationship with New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. Said Meyer, "He's one of my favorite guys. I love talking to him when he's down here, and then I'll go up there and study football with him. They do some of our stuff and we do some of their stuff. Obviously, they have some very good personnel up there."
  • Meyer doesn't think he would trade Tim Tebow for Tom Brady. Said Meyer, "If I told Brady to run a quarterback run, he might look at me like I had nine heads."

    Questions or comments? Contact FightinGators.com's Chris Chmielenski


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