The Florida Gators were fired up and more than ready to kick off their college football season last Saturday, but unfortunately due to lingering rain and dangerous lightning the season opener was suspended. On Monday, Athletic Director Jeremy Foley, coach Will Muschamp and wide receiver Valdez Showers discussed Saturday night’s suspended game versus Idaho and the squad’s plans moving forward.
According to Foley, a decision regarding playing Idaho at a later date, ruling the game a “no contest,” or possibly resuming the game on October 25th has not been made. Foley said he hopes to reach a decision by Tuesday or Wednesday the latest.
“Obviously there are a lot of questions out there in regards to Saturday night’s game and what’s going on moving forward – we don’t have those answers yet,” Foley said. “When we told you yesterday that it was going to take a couple of days to put everything together that was true; there’s a lot of people we have to talk to.”
“There are just a lot of different things we have to consider and we’re working through those things as we speak,” UF’s Athletic Director added. “We’re trying to get all parties together. We will know something tomorrow or Wednesday the latest. I know our fans have a lot of questions and we’ll get answers to you as soon as we possibly can.”
To put things into perspective – between the hours of five and 11 p.m. there were 1,100 lightning strikes within a six to eight mile radius of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium and the last strike of lightning was at 12:38 p.m. Muschamp elaborated on the inclement weather and said his number one goal is keeping his squad healthy and safe.
“It was an issue, not just of the playing conditions of the field — it was awful —but we had lightning all over the place,” Muschamp said following Monday’s practice. It was going to be very difficult to be able to get the game in.”
“It is what it is, I’ve never been a part of anything like it,” he added. “That’s what happened and we’re all disappointed. Some people are upset, and I certainly understand that. At the end of the day, it comes back to the welfare of the student athlete. That’s the most important thing.”
Fans were looking forward to the witnessing Florida unveil their new and much improved up-tempo offense and the Gators were able to showcase a glimpse of it following the 2 hour and 48 minute delay when the squad finally returned to the field around 9:50 p.m. Wide receiver Valdez Showers returned the opening kickoff 64 yards to the Vandals 14-yard line before the team was sent back to the locker room. The Michigan native said if the field had been in better condition, he would have cut back on the kickoff return to try and score a touchdown but didn’t want to slip.
“If the field was better I was definitely looking to cut back,” the Showers said. “But I knew there was a chance I would slip so I was just trying to rack up as many yards as I could.”
The redshirt junior also emphasized on the overall atmosphere and energy at Florida Field, despite the inclement weather. He said the team is truly thankful to have so many loyal fans.
“To me, that was really the highlight of the night,” Showers said. “When we came out of the tunnel again and saw all the fans there that really shocked me. I know I can speak for the team that really surprised us and we we’re really thankful that so many fans were there to support us.”
In regards to the depth chart and the punter situation – Muschamp announced that Kyle Christy will be the Gators starting punter.
“Kyle Christy will be the punter. We felt that overall, Kyle has been more consistent. “But Johnny is certainly more than capable.”
Meanwhile, Florida’s three announced suspensions for its season opener – defensive tackles Darious Cummings, Jay-nard Bostwick and sophomore wide receiver Demarcus Robinson will return to the field for Saturday’s game against Easter Michigan.
“We did have Darious Cummings and Jay-nard Bostwick suspended for the first game for a violation of team rules,” UF head coach said. “They will be back this week with us as well as Demarcus Robinson.”
You can catch the Gators in action this Saturday when they take on Eastern Michigan in The Swamp with coverage on ESPN 850 WRUF starting at noon.