GAINESVILLE — Nearly seven weeks after he was knocked out of the Kentucky game with a serious concussion, Florida QB Tim Tebow said he's healthier than he has ever been this late in the season.
And with three regular-season games left before the undefeated Gators have their rematch with Alabama in the SEC title game, Tebow's health is a welcome relief for UF coach Urban Meyer.
"Champions are made in November, and our goal every year is to compete for championships in November, and we're doing it," Meyer said.
Tebow has "always had a shoulder, an ankle … last year, the hyperextended knee. We've had a couple of sacks, but we're doing a better job of protecting him. It's just great to have him this healthy."
Despite the concussion, 155 rushing attempts and 21 sacks, Tebow said he has never felt better.
"I actually feel the best physically that I've felt in any season, this late in the season," he said. "Just feeling really good. Even though I've had some carries the last few games, I feel really good. The body feels good. I feel refreshed. So that's exciting going down the stretch."
With a healthy quarterback, the challenge of jump-starting the offense with more big plays continues.
"After really digesting this for a little while, what we're lacking is the big hits," Meyer said. "When your longest run, other than the speed option, is 12 yards, we need to get those hits. You look at last year, we had those hits. And it's either sustaining blocks a little longer, it's taking chances down the field, but it is predicated by how we're playing on defense."
And with the defense allowing 10.1 points per game, the Gators seem content to play it safe and make Tebow's passing a rarity in the second half. In seven SEC games, Tebow is 26-of-36 for 332 yards in the third quarter and 12-of-21 for 144 yards in the fourth quarter. In seven games, Tebow is averaging just eight second-half pass attempts. He has two second-half touchdown passes in SEC play, one more than backup QB John Brantley, who has played in two league games.
Sad ending: S Dorian Munroe's injury-filled career has taken another sad turn. The fifth-year senior from Miami reinjured his right knee and most likely is out for the rest of the season.
It is the third ACL injury he has suffered at Florida.
Munroe injured the knee during preseason drills and had surgery the last week of August. He returned to the lineup and played on special teams in the win over Georgia but did not dress against Vanderbilt.
Munroe missed the 2008 season with an ACL injury. He has played in 26 games and has 42 tackles.
Playing through pain: When junior DE Justin Trattou realized his return from a severe biceps injury suffered Oct. 17 against Arkansas was dependent upon his pain tolerance, he knew the initial diagnosis of missing four to six weeks wouldn't hold up.
In Trattou's mind, an athlete gets only a few chances to play in a career and can't waste them. Even if it means playing in pain.
"Once I learned I didn't need to get surgery and it was a matter of whether I'd be able to tolerate the pain or not, I knew I'd be able to play soon," he said.
Trattou has missed just one game since he "tore the biceps completely off" his left shoulder. And aside from the Advil he occasionally needs, he plans on living with the pain until the season ends.
"It's going to hurt for a little while," he said. "When you're in the game, with all the adrenaline, it doesn't really affect me as much. I'm really progressing, really pushing it hard and pushing through the pain. I think pushing through the pain actually brought the range of motion and strength back faster."