It started with the suspensions. First, the loss of starting wideout Antonio Callaway, then starting running back Jordan Scarlett. Add in a backup left tackle, a couple backup linebackers and three defensive linemen, and Florida was facing depth shortages all over the field following the nine suspensions for possible credit card fraud ahead of the season. After this past weekend’s loss to LSU, the numbers are even worse, and they span the entire field.
At quarterback, Florida is without Luke Del Rio, who’s out for the year with a broken collarbone, and Kyle Trask, who’s out for the foreseeable future with a foot injury.
At running back, the Gators lost the aforementioned Scarlett, who led the team in rushing last season.
At wideout, the Gators are down Callaway — their leading receiver for the past two seasons — as well as their No. 2-turned-No. 1 Tyrie Cleveland. He’s nursing a high ankle sprain, missed the LSU game and could miss this weekend’s contest against Texas A&M. On Monday, McElwain called his injury “a tough one.”
“It affected us,” fellow receiver Freddie Swain said, “because Tyrie is one of the faster receivers and he can definitely be a DB’s nightmare.”
Along the offensive line, the Gators are missing Kadeem Telfort, who is accused by University Police of using stolen credit cards to order gummy worms and hot Cheetos to his dorm room. Now, they’re also missing starting left guard Brett Heggie. He left Saturday’s game against the Tigers at halftime with a concussion, and McElwain said he’s doubtful heading into Saturday.
Switching to defense, the defensive line is missing Keivonnis Davis, Richerd Desir-Jones and Jordan Smith, who were implicated in the potential credit card fraud. Freshman defensive tackle Kyree Campbell was also out against LSU with a knee injury, and McElwain didn’t provide an update on him Monday. Last week, he said Campbell had an “outside chance” of playing against the Aggies. Then there’s Khairi Clark, who’s played limited due to a calf injury.
Starting linebacker Jeremiah Moon hurt his ankle against LSU, and McElwain said he’d be held out of practice on Monday, though he didn’t rule out a return before Saturday. The depth behind Moon is thin thanks to freshmen Ventrell Miller and James Houston being implicated in the fraud allegations.
And finally, there are the defensive backs. Starting safety Nick Washington aggravated a recurring shoulder injury and didn’t practice Monday, though his game status is still unclear. Same for the team’s other starting safety, Chauncey Gardner, who’s nursing an ankle injury.
But wait, there’s more: All-purpose playmaker Kadarius Toney is nursing a shin and a shoulder injury, and McElwain said he’s “highly questionable” for this weekend’s game.
Even on special teams, gunner/punt blocker Garrett Stephens is out for the foreseeable future with an undisclosed knee injury. He was carted off the field against LSU.
-- Jim McElwain sounded quite pleased with the Tom Petty tribute ahead of Saturday’s fourth quarter. McElwain seemed fine with the idea of it becoming a regular tradition.
“‘I won’t back down.’” he said. “It kind of hits home for me.”
-- After opening the season with a pair of pick sixes against Michigan, Florida’s defense has struggled to generate turnovers. The Gators haven’t managed one since their second game, and their five total rank 12th in the SEC.
“Think there were five pretty crucial opportunities this week,” McElwain said. “And, again, the strip drills, ball drills, all of those things continue to happen.
-- With Toney possibly out this Saturday, McElwain said redshirt junior receiver Dre Massey is next up in the wildcat formation.
You can follow Ethan Bauer on Twitter @ebaueri, and contact him at [email protected].