— It’s not the first time Florida has had to decide whether to send Tim Tebows injured veteran quarterback Christian Ponder to the sideline.
Last year, it was the only other time.
And while it was never really clear what would happen if Tebow was sent to the sidelines, it seemed inevitable that the Gators would give him the option to retire.
They did not.
That’s the lesson from last year’s Tebow situation, when the team gave Ponder a one-year extension to be its starter after he suffered a season-end knee injury in October.
In hindsight, that decision might have been the right one.
After all, it is Tebow who was injured, and he was playing well in his first full season in Florida, when he finished the season with 6,922 passing yards and 39 touchdowns to only four interceptions.
So while the team should have been more conservative about sending Ponder down, it has been more prudent to not force Ponder into retirement.
Florida fans should be relieved that they are not faced with the same scenario again, as the team is planning a farewell tour of Tampa next week to open the regular season against Alabama and Georgia.
The Gators will be playing at home, with a kickoff time of 7 p.m. on Friday.
Florida has yet to play Alabama, Georgia or Georgia Tech, but Florida coach Jim McElwain said this week that the game will likely be a “pretty big one” because it is a rivalry game.
And the Gators have been playing well on the road, winning the last two meetings with the Crimson Tide.
“I think it’s pretty clear that Florida is a team that will be really, really good on the football field and will win a lot of games on the field,” McElvie said.
“The only question is, do we win those games or do we have a good enough team that can be really good in the conference.”
The Gators’ offense, however, has been inconsistent this season.
It is currently averaging fewer than 1,000 yards per game.
They are also averaging 4.5 yards per carry, the worst in the SEC.
That is largely because of a porous defense that has allowed opponents to score at least 150 points in five of the last six games.
That also includes the loss of starting quarterback Josh Rosen to a broken ankle against Florida State.
Rosen is expected to be out for a couple weeks.
The team will be without three of its top four tacklers: cornerback Brandon Carr, cornerback Kaleb Ramsey and safety Darryl Roberts.
The loss of cornerback Jalen Collins has also limited the team’s ability to cover receivers.
The problem has been finding offensive weapons in the middle of the field, with the defense having been a big weakness.
The defensive front is also a strength.
The defense allowed more than 3,000 rushing yards last year.
Florida ranks eighth nationally in total defense, giving up just under 4,000.
The Seminoles are averaging 17 points per game this season, tied for fourth nationally.
That number is a big reason why they are averaging 5.4 yards per play this season compared to 5.3 last season.
The offense has been able to run the ball well with a running game that is averaging 1,056 yards a game.
But that has been mostly on the ground, with quarterbacks throwing for just 2,945 yards with three touchdowns in the last three games.
The biggest issue has been the defense.
Florida is allowing just 3.8 yards per rush this season after allowing 4.3 yards per run last year, which was the third-worst mark in the country.
Florida was also one of just four teams to allow 30 or more points in seven consecutive games last season, but that streak was broken by Florida State, which went 9-1 with a 3-0 mark in those seven games.
Florida finished the regular-season ranked sixth nationally with just 6,567 yards of offense, and the defense was allowing just 11.8 points per contest.
The quarterback situation is an issue for Florida, too.
Florida quarterback Josh Dobbs, who is entering his third season, has completed just 44.2 percent of his passes this season and is averaging 5-of-21 passing for 49 yards.
He has thrown three interceptions in four games.
Dobbs has been plagued by injury for much of the season, and that hasn’t helped.
He was forced to start four games last year because of knee injuries and has played in only two of the first six games this season because of another knee injury.
Dobers has thrown for more than 600 yards and two touchdowns in his last two games.
But Florida’s quarterback situation has been an issue this season as the Gators rank just 22nd nationally in completion percentage, averaging just 58.6 percent.
Florida ranked 18th nationally in yards per attempt last season at 9.4.
The issue is that Dobbs is just too talented