|Caldwell's return from knee injury bolsters Florida offense|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 25 October 2007 23:41|
Caldwell shook his head in disgust and jogged to the bench.
He apologized to quarterback Tim Tebow, then atoned for the drop by catching six passes for 73 yards and a touchdown. Maybe more important, he regained his confidence.
``That got me in the flow of the game, got my mind right after making that drop,'' Caldwell said. ``I made sure that wasn't going to happen again. I'm not going to let this team down.''
Caldwell usually does just the opposite for the ninth-ranked Gators (5-2, 3-2 SEC).
When Caldwell has been healthy, Florida has been a completely different team. He takes pressure off fellow receiver Percy Harvin and gives Tebow another dynamic option on offense.
Just ask Western Kentucky and Kentucky.
Caldwell had a combined nine catches for 176 yards against the two teams - the only games he's truly been healthy for this season. He missed all or part of the other five games because of a sprained knee.
But now, after struggling through the injury, Caldwell is back to full speed and ready to contribute even more against No. 20 Georgia (5-2, 3-2) in Jacksonville, Fla., on Saturday.
``You've got to account for me, can't leave me open,'' Caldwell said. ``They can't just put their best guy on Percy. They got to put a good guy on me, so that leaves mismatches. I don't think anybody can match up with us.''
It was like that in the opener against Western Kentucky. Caldwell caught three passes for 103 yards, showing big-play ability and causing defensive breakdowns all over the field.
But against Troy the following week, Caldwell sprained the medial collateral ligament in his right knee on the first play of the second half. He sat out the next two games, then returned - mostly in a decoy role - against Auburn and LSU. He started feeling normal again during the Gators' off week.
He showed it against the Wildcats.
``It's great having him on the field,'' Tebow said. ``Not just as a player who can make plays, but as a leader. He did a great job making plays, catching the ball and running after the catch. He is a playmaker and he has shown that in the games.''
Caldwell, the younger brother of Washington Redskins receiver Reche Caldwell, caught 57 passes for 577 yards and six touchdowns last season.
He could have turned pro and probably would have been a first-day pick, but decided to return for his final year, earn his degree and be the go-to guy.
Harvin has been the No. 1 target so far, but it might not take Caldwell very long to make up ground, especially since he doesn't plan to drop another pass.
``It's just rust,'' he said. ``You got to get your wind back and get used to the game speed.''
He did that after the first drop. He also earned coach Urban Meyer's offensive MVP award following the 45-37 victory that put the Gators in control of the SEC East heading into the final three conference games.
``He's one of our best players, a captain of our team,'' center Drew Miller said. ``We're glad to have him back. It makes defenses not be able to do what they want to do because they'll be scared of the deep ball.''