tampabay.com

Injury shocks offense

The Gators stumbled for a quarter after losing Percy Harvin.

By IAN FISHER
Published November 26, 2006


TALLAHASSEE - When freshman Percy Harvin was injured late in the second quarter, the Gators lost much more than one of their most dynamic players.

The Gators were so down that for a quarter, their entire offense seemed lost. In the third quarter, the Gators mustered one first down in the beginning before sputtering the rest of the way.

"Anytime one of your teammates gets hurt like that, that zaps your energy," coach Urban Meyer said. "They love Percy Harvin. That kind of took a little steam out of our sails."

Harvin was injured going across the middle on Florida's final possession of the first half. He was numb after a stinger to his neck, Meyer said, but the prognosis is good. He walked out of the locker room after the game and appeared to be fine, saying only, "I'll be all right."

The Gators are awaiting an MRI, but Harvin should be able to play against Arkansas in the SEC Championship Game, Meyer said.

While Harvin was down on the field for about 10 minutes, teammates came up to wish him well, as did FSU reserve receiver Damon McDaniel, who went to high school with Harvin in Virginia Beach. Harvin gave a hand signal as he was driven off.

In the third quarter, after losing Harvin and tailback DeShawn Wynn, the Florida offense that had racked up 266 total yards in the first half was essentially inept.

"Percy Harvin is a big-time playmaker," offensive coordinator Dan Mullen said, adding that his playbook shrunk when Harvin went down. "Any time you take him out of the offense or somebody that has the ability to score when he touches the ball out of the scheme, your production is going to go down a little."

The Gators had four three-and-out possessions in the quarter, another punt and a fumble.

When punt returner Brandon James came in to run one of Harvin's plays, a direct snap, he was stuffed for a loss of 3 yards. It was the same play that Harvin took for 41 yards and a touchdown in the second quarter.

On that play, Harvin lined up at quarterback and outran FSU's chasing defenders. That play was all one needed to see why the Gators need Harvin.

"The one thing we want to be is the fastest team in college football," Meyer said. "Why? It's easy. Watch Percy make two guys miss and outrun the entire secondary for FSU."

Antonya English contributed to this report.