Randy Shannon is familiar with coaching just 53 players.
He was an assistant coach in the NFL with the Miami Dolphins from 1998-2000, where rosters are limited to 53.
So when he heard that yet another one of his Florida players suffered an injury — bringing UF’s total available scholarship players down to the low 50s (down from 85) — UF’s interim coach brushed it off with a shrug of his shoulders.
“Just treat this as an NFL team,” Shannon said.
After practice on Tuesday, Shannon said offensive lineman Antonio Riles likely won’t play this week, adding to an already extensive injury list.
Among the players out for the season are safety Marcell Harris, defensive lineman Jordan Sherit, center T.J. McCoy, running back Malik Davis, quarterback Luke Del Rio and offensive lineman Brett Heggie, all of whom were starters. Among the players who have missed significant playing time are safety Nick Washington, receiver Kadarius Toney and linebacker Kylan Johnson.
“(Linebackers coach Tim Skipper) tells us we can’t get hurt,” linebacker Cristian Garcia said. “We just take the punches and roll. That’s all you can really do.”
Garcia, a redshirt senior, has provided important leadership to a young linebacker corps that usually starts at least two underclassmen, but he has had to play through an injury as well. Garcia said he receives an injection in his shoulder every week to help him play through pain.
“It’s been tough,” Garcia said. “But I’m holding up fine.”
Florida’s offensive line has also been hit hard. With McCoy and Heggie out, the Gators have had to shuffle players into unfamiliar positions and prepare third- and fourth-string players for backup roles.
Even starting tackle Jawaan Taylor — who said he never quite recovered from a torn meniscus during fall training camp — has been playing hurt.
“This whole season I sacrificed myself and just gave it my all every game,” Taylor said. “Even though I’m not 100 (percent), I’m giving it all to my team.”
Thompson looking for redemption in final two games:
Mark Thompson never quite lived up to expectations.
Last season, during his first year at Florida after transferring from junior college, the running back predicted that he would have 1,000 yards by the bye week. He ended the year with 299 rushing yards.
Through nine games this season, Thompson has 156 rushing yards and two touchdowns in mostly a reserve role.
He has two more regular-season games to make his mark on UF’s program.
“I know what I can do,” Thompson said. “It’s more of proving it to the people who are looking at me and hopefully going to be writing me a check one day.”
Thompson, a redshirt senior, has received more playing time this season, partly because presumed starter Jordan Scarlett has missed the entire year after being involved in a nine-player credit card scandal and because breakout freshman running back Malik Davis’ season ended with a knee injury against Georgia on Oct. 28.
After Davis’ injury, Thompson had an explosive 25-yard rush against Georgia and a 31-yard run against South Carolina on Saturday.
“I just want to leave everything out on the field so I can do what they think I can do,” Thompson said.
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