With outbreaks of the flu spreading throughout college football teams across the nation, add Urban Meyer to the list of coaches who are extremely concerned about the possibility as the Gators prepare to travel to Kentucky this week.
TE Aaron Hernandez, RB Jeff Demps and DE Jermaine Cunninghamhad either the flu or flu-like symptoms last week. All played sparingly in Saturday's victory over Tennessee.
"It is a panic level of proportion I've never seen before," Meyer said Sunday. "That's coming from me. You hear about, I think, Wisconsin had 40 players. Ole Miss had 20 players. ... My gosh."
Kentucky coach Rich Brooks is also concerned. Brooks said Sunday that Antwane Glenn, a sophomore defensive tackle, has flu symptoms and was sent home from team activities.
Duke, Tulane, Washington State, Mississippi and Wisconsin are among the schools who have dealt with large numbers of players who have come down with either seasonal flu symptoms or those associated with the H1N1 virus, also known as swine flu. Symptoms include fever, coughing, body aches and sore throats.
Nearly 30 Ole Miss players missed practice time during the Sept. 12 bye week, including QB Jevan Snead and RB Dexter McCluster.
"Our training staff and doctors are attacking this as hard as we can," Meyer said. "That Purell stuff's everywhere. You can't walk down the hallway without everybody telling you to do this, do this. We're trying the best we can, but it's real. We had guys miss time. We had three of our best players. One shouldn't have played. If it's anybody other than Jeff Demps, they said he probably couldn't function. And Jeff did not look right. Aaron Hernandez didn't play like Aaron Hernandez. And Jermaine didn't play like Jermaine. They were beat up pretty good."
At Florida, sick players are being housed in separate dorm and hotel rooms. Meyer said Hernandez seems to be on the mend, while Demps is in the early stages. He'll know about possibleisolation for other players this week.
"Our guys, our team doctors, they're on it as fast as you can get on it," he said.
KEEPING IT STEADY: Veterans and leaders are taking it upon themselves to make sure the Gators don't view Saturday's 23-13 victory in a negative way. Florida was a 291/2-point favorite.
"If you look at the score compared to some past scores, you can see where it might feel like a disappointment," senior LB Ryan Stamper said. "We want to come out, play hard and show the country we're the best team by blowing everybody out, but sometimes that's not going to happen. You're going to have dogfights like this. All that matters at the end is that we won the game. This is where we let the young guys know, I've been here during times when we won a championship, but barely made it through.''
Antonya English can be reachedat firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3389.