Tape It Up: Florida: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

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Florida: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

The newly-demoted No. 9 Gators are already in the midst of answering a host of questions after Saturday's loss to unranked Auburn, but the coaches suddenly have some internal questions to answer, as well. Offensive tackle Phil Trautwein and running back Chris Rainey are officially out for the rest of the season, but receiver Andre "Bubba" Caldwell numbed some of the the team's pain, since he should be back up to speed for Saturday's game at No. 1 LSU. And they will certainly need him.

Trautwein started every game for the Gators in 2006, but a stress fracture in his right foot sidelined him for the first five games of 2007. The senior captain had hoped to recouperate in time to help the Gators bring home a second national title, but head coach Urban Meyer said on Monday that Trautwein will not play for the remainder of the season. He should get a medical redshirt and return for a fifth year in 2008.

Rainey, a true freshman, injured his shoulder and should be having shoulder surgery in the coming weeks. He has seen time in four games this season, rushing once for 10 yards, returning a punt for 22 yards and a kickoff for 39 yards.

Luckily, there was some good news on Monday to offset the lost boys - Bubba Caldwell should be back in time to help the Gators take on No. 1 LSU on Saturday. Caldwell had missed two games earlier in the season with a sprained ligament in his right knee, and saw limited time in last week's loss to Auburn. Having Caldwell back in the lineup should be a huge boost for the Gators, both physically and mentally. A co-captain and preseason All-SEC selection, Caldwell caught four passes for 111 yards in his first two (healthy) games and recorded a rushing touchdown before the injury kept him on the sideline for the past few weeks.

The Gators' offense will have to do better than it did against Auburn if the reigning national champions hope to knock off the nation's best defense, and Caldwell is central to that equation.

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