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Thursday, January 27, 2022

Notebook: Wenger out for Furman game with ankle injury

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<p>Florida senior offensive lineman Dan Wenger (56) will not play Saturday against Furman after suffering an injury to his ankle during last week’s loss.</p>
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Florida senior offensive lineman Dan Wenger (56) will not play Saturday against Furman after suffering an injury to his ankle during last week’s loss.

Offensive lineman Dan Wenger will not play Saturday against Furman because of an ankle injury, coach Will Muschamp said Wednesday.

Wenger, a sixth-year senior who played for offensive coordinator Charlie Weis and position coach Frank Verducci at Notre Dame, has brought a veteran presence to a young line this year. He has started every game, mostly at left guard. With inconsistency at center the week before, Wenger made his senior debut at the position against South Carolina.

Sophomore Jonotthan Harrison and junior Sam Robey are splitting time at center during practices this week, Muschamp said, and sophomore Kyle Koehne will play left guard.

The status of three other Gators remains up in the air. Offensive tackle Chaz Green (ankle) and defensive lineman Leon Orr (shoulder) are questionable while linebacker Lerentee McCray (shoulder) is “questionable at best,” Muschamp said. McCray suffered the injury Oct. 29 against Georgia, and his shoulder has not responded well to rehab.

Disciplining Dominique: The coaching staff is using all available resources to preach pre-snap discipline to Florida defensive linemen. Coordinator Dan Quinn was asked Wednesday if working with fiery defensive tackle Dominique Easley presented a unique challenge.

When he is not dancing, Easley spends much of his time between plays jawing with whoever happens to be his opponent that week. Easley is also noted for his quick first step, which sometimes comes at a cost.

Easley has committed an offside           penalty the last two weeks, including in a pivotal moment against South Carolina. Trailing by five with less than four minutes left Saturday, Easley jumped offside. Florida did not get the ball back for another three minutes.

“I’d say he listens to us,” Quinn said. “Is he wanting to (jump offside)? No. Is it undisciplined football? Absolutely. And are we the ones responsible for that? Yeah. Between the two of us, we’re going to get it right.”

D-line depth: Quinn said Florida’s thin defensive line has held the group back, and not just because the team has a smaller rotation than it wants.

The defensive linemen aren’t able to practice as long as Quinn wants to because of a lack of depth. Also, there are not enough players fighting for playing time.

“That’s an issue for us, in terms of the depth, just because you love that competition factor. From a depth standpoint, sometimes it allows you to play more players when they gain the experience and that kind of thing. But at this point, it is what it is.”

Junior defensive tackle Omar Hunter said the group also isn’t facing good enough competition in practice. The starting linemen on both sides of the ball don’t face each other as much as they have in years past because both groups are so thin.

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“As far as going against the scout team, going with the (starters) is better because they give you a better look,” Hunter said. “It’s more competition.”

Story to redshirt: Muschamp expects at least four true freshmen to receive redshirts this season: wide receiver Ja’Juan Story, defensive back Valdez Showers, and offensive linemen Tommy Jordan and Trip Thurman.

Defensive ends Clay Burton and Tevin Westbrook are also candidates for medical redshirts, though they each played in games before Southeastern Conference play began.

Contact Tyler Jett at tjett@alligator.org.

Florida senior offensive lineman Dan Wenger (56) will not play Saturday against Furman after suffering an injury to his ankle during last week’s loss.

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