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Saturday, May 21, 2022
<p>Cornerback CJ Henderson (right) <span id="docs-internal-guid-d8245a51-7fff-a17e-7f56-e281c81e5f93"><span>exited Saturday’s game against Georgia with a lower back injury. Coach Dan Mullen said the sophomore didn’t sustain any structural damage.</span></span></p>

Cornerback CJ Henderson (right) exited Saturday’s game against Georgia with a lower back injury. Coach Dan Mullen said the sophomore didn’t sustain any structural damage.

It seemed like a routine tackle at first.

Both cornerback C.J. Henderson and defensive lineman Adam Shuler went for the hit against Georgia running back D’Andre Swift and collided with each other.

Shuler got up right away. Henderson did not.

The sophomore, who anchors Florida’s defensive back unit, sat out the remainder of the game. Freshman Trey Dean and redshirt sophomore C.J. McWilliams were left to face Bulldogs quarterback Jake Fromm for the majority of the game, which resulted in 240 passing yards and three touchdowns.

Henderson’s presence was missed, but he won’t be out for too long. Florida head coach Dan Mullen said the sophomore only has a bruised back, not structural damage, and is expected to be ready to play against Missouri this week.

The Gators will definitely need him. When they play the Tigers at 4 p.m. at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday, they will go up against one of the best quarterbacks in the SEC in Drew Lock.

“I think any time you have guys that have the talent of (Henderson) that obviously helps you because you’re facing an NFL quarterback,” defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said, “probably first round pick, that’s got a cannon for an arm, that can do a lot of things.”

A first-round pick would certainly match Lock’s production this season. He ranks second in the conference in passing yards with 2,144 and is tied for second with 16 passing touchdowns. He has also thrown the ball more than any SEC quarterback, and as a result, has the most completions.

Missouri has little to show for it, though. The Tigers rank last in the SEC East with a winless conference record, and they are 4-4 overall with wins against UT Martin, Wyoming, Purdue and Memphis.

Grantham said the team still can’t take Missouri lightly, especially with memories of last season’s 45-16 loss fresh in Florida’s mind.

“They’re probably the most explosive — well, they are the most explosive offense we’ve seen to date,” he said. “It’s a team that beat us up pretty good last year.”

Having Henderson back for the Missouri game will be huge for the Gators’ thin secondary with sophomore Marco Wilson out for the year. Henderson has amassed 20 tackles on the year and leads the team in pass breakups with five. He’s also tied for second on the team with two forced fumbles and has two sacks.

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“Oh, it helps a lot,” defensive lineman Khairi Clark said on Henderson playing on Saturday. “You know he’s basically our top cornerback so we definitely need him to go to war with our guys.”

 

Follow Jake Dreilinger on Twitter @DreilingerJake or contact him at jdreilinger@alligator.org.

Cornerback CJ Henderson (right) exited Saturday’s game against Georgia with a lower back injury. Coach Dan Mullen said the sophomore didn’t sustain any structural damage.

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