Randy Shannon may not have gotten the offensive output he wanted in his first game as Florida’s interim head coach, but that hasn’t affected his plan at quarterback heading into this weekend’s matchup with South Carolina.
Shannon announced on Monday that graduate transfer Malik Zaire will start under center for the Gators (3-5, 3-4 SEC) once again this Saturday when UF travels to Columbia to take on the Gamecocks (6-3, 4-3 SEC).
Zaire — who made his first start of the year last weekend against Missouri in place of redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks — completed 13 of 19 passes for 158 yards, but failed to lead Florida to the end zone on 10 offensive drives and also threw one interception in the Gators’ 45-16 blowout loss to the Tigers.
Despite the one-sided outing, Shannon said the former Notre Dame quarterback did enough to earn himself another week as the team’s starter, crediting his ability to control the offense and limit its mistakes.
“He didn’t do anything to hurt us,” Shannon said. “He did a nice job of getting the ball down the field, making some throws and doing some certain things. We just have to build on what he’s done and just keep moving forward.”
Heggie out for the year
Starting left guard Brett Heggie suffered a season-ending leg injury against Missouri on Saturday, according to Shannon.
Heggie had been one of Florida’s most consistent performers on the offensive line this fall, earning SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week honors on Oct. 2. Junior Tyler Jordan and redshirt junior Antonio Riles are expected to fill in his place for the rest year.
“Brett going down is definitely something you don’t want to have happen,” Jordan said. “But we’ve been trying to build as much depth as we can, and we have to step up and just play the game.”
In other injury news for Florida, freshman receiver Kadarius Toney and sophomore defensive end Jachai Polite have been ruled out for Saturday’s game against South Carolina with shoulder injuries.
Redshirt sophomore defensive end Jabari Zuniga (ankle), sophomore receiver Tyrie Cleveland (ankle), redshirt sophomore center T.J. McCoy (undisclosed injury) and freshman safety Shawn Davis (undisclosed injury) are expected to play.
Scarlett, Wells placed in pretrial diversion program
Junior running back Jordan Scarlett and redshirt freshman receiver Rick Wells — two of nine players on Florida’s football team suspended indefinitely and accused of credit card fraud — were placed in pretrial diversion programs at court hearings on Monday.
According to court records, Scarlett and Wells were ordered to pay $200 in court fees and will have to stay out of legal trouble to stay in the program and avoid third-degree felony charges.
Freshman linebacker James Houston will appear for his hearing on Wednesday, while junior receiver Antonio Callaway and redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Richerd Desir-Jones will appear for their hearings on Nov. 14.
Freshman linebacker Ventrell Miller and junior defensive end Keivonnis Davis have not been scheduled for their hearings yet, but were offered the same pretrial diversion program as the other five players.
Redshirt freshman defensive end Jordan Smith and freshman offensive tackle Kadeem Telfort, on the other hand, are not eligible for the pretrial diversion program because of the number of recommended third-degree felonies levied against them by University Police. Davis and Telfort are awaiting formal charges from state attorney Bill Cervone.
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Interim coach Randy Shannon announced on Monday that graduate transfer Malik Zaire will start under center for the Gators once again this Saturday when UF travels to Columbia to take on the Gamecocks.