GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Tim Tebow's status against No. 4 LSU appears that it will be a game-day decision.
Florida coach Urban Meyer said Wednesday that his medical staff told him to prepare as if the injured Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback will play Saturday night in Baton Rouge. Team doctors also warned Meyer that Tebow might not be cleared in time for the game.
"It was very simply, 'Plan to play with him and plan to play without him," Meyer said following practice. "That's day to day."
Tebow practiced Tuesday for the first time since suffering the first concussion of his career Sept. 26 against Kentucky. He was hospitalized overnight, and there has been much speculation about whether he should return against the Tigers.
Meyer has left the decision up to the team's medical staff, but there's little doubt he would rather have Tebow running the top-ranked Gators in Death Valley instead of sophomore John Brantley making his first career start on the road and in front of a hostile night crowd.
Tebow was given partial clearance to practice Tuesday, with team doctors telling him to avoid contact for now. Although one concussion expert told Meyer he should let Tebow take a few light shots to the chest, the coach said it hasn't happened.
Meyer also said doctors assured him Tebow would not be any more susceptible to a second concussion Saturday as he would be later in the season.
"You're healed, you're healed," Meyer said. "So whether it's next week or the week after, if you're not healed, you're not healed."
Tebow and Brantley split repetitions Tuesday and again Wednesday. Meyer said Tebow, who was a little rusty in his first practice, looked better the second time around.
"He looked good today," Meyer said.
But Meyer declined to speculate on the possibility of his star player playing against LSU.
"Is it an advantage, us not telling?" Meyer said. "I'm not worried about that right now. We're game-planning as if there's a chance Tim could play. There's a chance he won't play. That's going to be pretty much the response until the foot hits the ball down there."
Regardless, Florida intends to err on the side of caution.
"Yes. Absolutely," Meyer said. "I've never seen the attention to detail. I guess you expect that here at Florida. This is not one, two, three. It's many, many people involved in the evaluation phase of Tim."
Also, Meyer said backup left tackle Matt Patchan tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during Tuesday's practice and will have season-ending surgery.
Patchan's two seasons have been filled with injuries and mishaps. He got mononucleosis when he first arrived on campus in January 2008, then separated his right shoulder during offseason workouts, was shot in his left shoulder in May 2008, tore his left pectoral muscle while rehabbing from that, and then tore ligaments in his left knee late last year.
Just when Patchan thought he was fully healed, he injured his left leg in a scooter accident this spring.
"That hurts," Meyer said. "That's a tough deal, especially for Matt. Matt's been injury prone. He was coming into his own a little bit, playing, starting and getting a lot of action."
Meyer said the school would seek a medical redshirt for Patchan, which would give him three years of eligibility remaining.
Coincidentally, Patchan was playing left tackle when Tebow was injured at Kentucky. Defensive end Taylor Wyndham lined up across from Patchan, came unblocked and sacked Tebow. But offensive coordinator Steve Addazio, also the team's offensive line coach, took the blame for protection scheme.
"It's not a missed assignment," Addazio said. "That's not the case at all. Every protection there's an answer, and sometimes you get something you're not supposed to get. There's a lot of factors that go into every play. There's little pieces that are very fragile here that have to happen, but everyone kinda did what they were supposed to do.
"I think ultimately on that play right there, where everything didn't exactly go to plan, it should go on one guy's shoulders -- mine. That's it. No one else's. ... It's not on any player. I've gotta be in a better scheme."