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Gators handled Hurricane Irma perfectly. Now it’s time to play football

Florida Gators fans
Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports

The Florida schools got it right. Under no circumstances should a college football team have tried to play a game this last weekend. Safety from a hurricane took precedence, as it should have, over any recreational event.

What mattered most to us who live in the state was avoiding danger during the hurricane and the all-too-familiar recovery efforts after.

But we all need a diversion from time to time, a chance to let our minds rest and think about the fun stuff – like football. And specifically, how the weather-mandated change in the schedules affects the teams we cover.

Florida, like its in-state brethren, handled the unfortunate week perfectly. Athletic director Scott Stricklin got out ahead of it, stayed in touch with Northern Colorado, and initially moved the start time of the game between the two from 7:30 p.m. to noon when it looked like playing it was still possible. When playing in Gainesville Saturday was not a possibility, he and his aides considered Friday. They considered moving the game out of state to Auburn’s stadium. They considered about everything.

Ultimately, with fear of Hurricane Irma bearing down, Stricklin made the correct decision to cancel the game. He then swiftly – through a release, through social media and appearances on talk shows – explained the process. It came off without a hitch. I didn’t speak with one person who disagreed with not only the decision, but the process.

So now, though, the football question becomes, what is the overall effect on the team? How does a Gators team that looked so bad in being dismantled by Michigan in the opener get ready to play rival Tennessee without a warmup of sorts against Northern Colorado?

The Gators only recently learned, for certain, that the game will be played. Despite that distraction alone, coach Jim McElwain’s challenges now are completely different than a week ago. I wrote last week that the Gators should have quarterback Feleipe Franks go the distance, let him air it out from start to finish to get the feel of throwing passes, reading defenses, changing plays, going through progressions, in volume.

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