"He's hurting," Urban Meyer said. "But he'll never tell you. He'll tell you ‘I'm fine. I'm fine I'm fine. I'm fine."
For a quarterback a player that once played part of a high school game with a broken leg, it was distressing to see him so physically limited by a bruised non-throwing shoulder. As expected, Tim Tebow was guarded in his responses to questions about the injury.
"There's some pain but I don't think it affected the way I played too much," Tebow said. "I wanted to do whatever the coach's wanted me to do. It bothered me a little bit but that's what offseason training is for. You're going to have bumps and bruises throughout the course of the year."
It's hard to guess at just how much the injury might've affected the playcalling and consequently the game's result. A desperately-needed fourth down conversion would've normally drawn a Tebow rush. Instead, a botched reverse to Percy Harvin was the result.
And with Florida's defense yielding so many points to the opposition, the pressure on Tebow to perform and keep the team in the game becomes all the more magnified.
"My role is to manage the offense and put us in a position to make plays," Tebow said. "I've got to do a better job. We all as a collective unit have got to do a better job."
Certainly, a lot of credit for Tebow's struggles was due to a tremendous pass rush by the Bulldogs. Georgia totaled six sacks, which more than the Gators offense had given up in the previous seven games combined. And for the first and possibly last time in Tebow's career as the Gators' quarterback, he was held to negative rushing yards.
"Georgia did a good job at mixing up their blitzes, brought a lot of different blitzes," Tebow said. "I should have made a few better protection calls. We should've picked up a few more guys to get the ball out. It's just something we're going to have to work on."
The windfall of the third loss in a grueling October schedule is a reassessment of goals for the team as a whole. With all the talk in recent weeks of winning the SEC title and Tebow's Heisman candidacy, it's all meaningless unless the team improves dramatically.
"All the games have been tough but we thought we were in control of getting to Atlanta," Tebow said. "We were focused. I thought we had bounced back from two losses and were playing well."
Despite it all, a remarkably tight race for the SEC East has kept the Gators in contention for the division title. The difference now is that they will have to rely on other teams' wins and losses to determine their destiny.
"We still could have a shot but I don't think we need to worry about that right now," Tebow said. "We just need to worry about getting better, going out on Monday and getting better on offense, defense, special teams, everybody."
Questions or comments? Contact FightinGators.com's Blake Bonsack
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