When the No. 8 Florida Gators face off against the No. 5 Georgia Bulldogs this Saturday in the team's annual Florida-Georgia game this weekend, Nov. 7, they'll be doing so without having to play against one of the best safeties in the nation in Bulldogs safety Richard LeCounte.
According to a report from ESPN's Harry Lyles Jr., ESPN's Mark Schlabach was told LeCounte is expected to miss "at least a few weeks" after a motor vehicle accident Saturday evening, involving LeCounte who was riding a dirt bike when he struck a vehicle that was attempting to make a left turn, according to the report.
After LeCounte hit the first vehicle, his dirt bike went into the oncoming lane and at that point, he was struck a second time by another oncoming vehicle.
On Saturday, the University of Georgia issued this press release, stating:
Richard LeCounte was injured in a motor-vehicle accident Saturday evening in Athens. He was transported to Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center where he was treated in the trauma center. He is still in the hospital for further medical care. His injuries are not life-threatening and a full recovery is expected.
“We would like to thank the emergency medical technicians, physicians, nurses, and other medical personnel who helped care for Richard. Richard’s family would also like to thank everyone for their thoughts, prayers and well-wishes during this time.
His mother, Erika Blocker-LeCounte told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that her son was "lucky to be alive." and that "he was wearing his helmet and (that) saved his life."
LeCounte is one of the best defenders on the Bulldogs currently and leads the team with four pass deflections and three interceptions through five contests thus far this season. Against Kentucky, the Bulldogs safety recorded the second-most tackles on the team with 13, while netting three pass deflections and one fumble recovery on the day.
For the Gators, LeCounte missing the upcoming contest will greatly benefit its offense, especially considering the coverage by the remainder of the Bulldogs secondary this season. It was expected that LeCounte would play a vital role in stopping Florida right end Kyle Pitts, however, that is clearly now out of the question.
On the year, Pitts has caught 22 passes for 355 yards and seven touchdowns and has been the Gators' leading receiver in two out of four of the contests. On Saturday, look for Pitts to play a major role in producing for the Florida offense as he has done all season.
For the Bulldogs, they'll likely be forced to turn to junior safety Christopher Smith. Smith has played in four games thus far this season and has recorded just nine tackles on the year. The drop off in talent will be noticed early and often, and it will be up to the Gators offense to take advantage.