Serious injury concerns have Florida on tilt entering Texas A&M game

By Adam Silverstein
October 11, 2017
Serious injury concerns have Florida on tilt entering Texas A&M game

Image Credit: ESPN

Head coach Jim McElwain can posture all he wants, but the Florida Gators may be facing disaster if they cannot find a way to get some of their most talented players back on the field sooner than later.

We already detailed the injuries and absences for you on Monday, but McElwain’s midweek updates did not provide much hope for Florida to get the players it needs to compete — and potentially beat — Texas A&M on the field ahead of Saturday’s game.

McElwain on Wednesday downgraded wide receivers sophomore Tyrie Cleveland (high-ankle sprain) and freshman Kadarius Toney (separated shoulder) to doubtful, ruled out redshirt senior safety Nick Washington (shoulder) and added redshirt senior running back Mark Thompson (heel) to the injury report as questionable along with redshirt sophomore defensive end Jabari Zuniga (ankle), junior cornerback Duke Dawson (illness) and redshirt junior tight end Moral Stephens (undisclosed). Redshirt freshman left guard Brett Heggie (concussion) has not participated in contact work yet this week.

There was no update provided on sophomore S Chauncey Gardner (ankle) or redshirt freshman linebacker Jeremiah Moon, who were initially questionable but now appear likely to play.

The absence of Washington ensures the Gators will be starting yet another freshman in a secondary already ranked 72nd nationally in pass efficiency defense.

Cleveland and Toney both likely being sidelined means Florida will now be without four of its top five playmakers for at least one game this season as juniors WR Antonio Callaway and RB Jordan Scarlett remain suspended along with seven other players. That leaves freshman RB Malik Davis (57 carries, 409 yards, two touchdowns) and sophomore RB Lamichal Perine (50 carries, 218 yards, five touchdowns) as the Gators’ best playmaking options along with sophomore Josh Hammond (nine receptions, 122 yards) as the leading receiver available.


Yes, Florida does have a bye week coming up to get healthy, though No. 4 Georgia waits on the other side of it and UF cannot afford a loss before that game or it may be looking at a 3-4 record with two road SEC games and Florida State remaining on its schedule. In other words, Florida might flirt with bowl ineligibility if it falls at Texas A&M on Saturday.

“I don’t care who is missing. There isn’t any of that. It’s the guys we have — go out and play your tails off. That’s what needs to happen,” McElwain said.

In other news …

» McElwain said redshirt freshman quarterback Feleipe Franks has remained confident all week. The Gators have added some tempo concepts in to help him and the rest of the offense.

» The Aggies are “really good” and have been “recruiting at a high level for a long time,” according to McElwain, who was impressed with the tape he saw of the Alabama-Texas A&M game. He believes TAMU’s investment into football is now paying dividends in the talent on the field.

» There is concern that Florida will be just as susceptible to being beaten on the perimeter as it was a week ago, and McElwain believes Texas A&M has the talent to do just that.



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