Posted by Adam Jacobi
Florida's chances at beating Alabama took a hit today, when kicker Caleb Sturgis aggravated a previous back injury. According to GatorSports.com, Sturgis suffered a stress fracture and herniated disc in his back earlier this month, and though Sturgis was able to kick through the injury this far into the season, the rehab is expected to take him 6-8 weeks this time around.
Obviously, this is bad news for Sturgis; place-kicking is so dependent on athletic precision that not having a healthy back can absolutely wreck Sturgis' technique. Further, the long the injury sidelines him, the longer he'll need to re-develop that muscle memory well enough to reliably hit field goals. Thus, while the report puts him back for the last week or so of the regular season, we'd be shocked if Sturgis returned before Florida's bowl game.
What's more, the precision in special teams isn't limited to the kicking itself; punter Chaz Henry will be kicking field goals now, and unless he's very flexible, that means he'll have to relinquish his role as placeholder. We're not sure who the new placeholder will be, but we're pretty sure that sheerly by dint of the lack of repetitions, they won't have the timing and rapport down nearly as well as Sturgis and Henry did before the injury.
All of which is to say that Florida's special teams are appreciably worse now than they were 24 hours ago, and Urban Meyer's undoubtedly acutely aware of that. If that changes his playcalling at all, that may not be quite a bad thing; if Meyer continues two drives where he'd normally kick a field goal, and only one ends in a touchdown, the Gators are still better off than if they'd made both field goals. Obviously, having a good field goal kicker is much more preferable to just going for it all the time, but a shift in offensive priorities may not automatically be a bad thing.