Florida is making changes to its travel arrangements for Thursday night's season opener against No. 14 Utah in an effort to steer clear of the path of Hurricane Idalia.
Florida coach Billy Napier announced that the Gators will conduct their practice session in Gainesville on Tuesday before heading to Dallas for the night. On Wednesday, the team will fly to Salt Lake City.
Originally, Coach Napier's plan was to fly the squad from Gainesville to Utah on Wednesday.
"If you're heading west, it just makes more sense," Napier explained. "The hotel posed a significant logistical challenge in terms of our destination. This adjustment might actually turn out to be a positive. We'll break up the flight, get the players and staff to Dallas for a good night's rest, allowing for extra focus, and more bonding time as a team. We view this as a potential advantage."
The National Hurricane Center issued warnings of an increasing potential for life-threatening storm surge and hurricane-force winds across Florida on Tuesday and Wednesday as Hurricane Idalia gained strength. This marks the first storm to impact Florida in the current hurricane season, potentially dealing a significant blow to a state still grappling with the aftermath of Hurricane Ian from last year.
Idalia unleashed heavy rain on Cuba, particularly in the westernmost region of the island, where the tobacco-producing area of Pinar del Rio is still in the process of rebuilding following the devastation caused by Hurricane Ian. Meteorological stations in Cuba reported rainfall amounts of up to 4 inches on Sunday.
The cyclone's center is anticipated to traverse the eastern Gulf of Mexico later on Tuesday, approach the Gulf Coast of Florida within the hurricane warning zone on Wednesday, and pass near the Carolina coast on Thursday.