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There’s never a good time for a player to be injured, but the No. 15 Florida Gators have basically been faced with worst-case scenarios in terms of timing all season.
First, Florida lost its starting quarterback late in a game against North Texas one week before it was set to go on the road to face Tennessee in a rivalry game. Now it looks like the Gators will be without the leader of their defense in two weeks when they face Georgia in the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.
Senior linebacker Jarrad Davis suffered what looked like a serious left leg injury late in Saturday’s 40-14 win over the Missouri Tigers. Though head coach Jim McElwain noted after the game that X-rays were negative and Davis did not break or fracture anything, he said the player was set to undergo an MRI on Sunday.
Those results came in, and Florida announced Sunday afternoon that Davis has been diagnosed with “a badly sprained ankle.” No timetable was given for his return to the field.
A grade two or three sprain could sideline Davis for up to six weeks, though that is a generalization not taking into account the Gators’ training staff or Davis’s to-this-point fast recovery capabilities and high pain tolerance. Still, it’s a significant injury and one that looks to have Davis set to miss the Florida-Georgia game in two weeks.
“It was kind of surreal seeing him really get helped off the field because he does so much for this team, so much for this program,” said junior cornerback Jalen Tabor on Saturday night. “It was kind of surreal that he was really walking off the field. That’s our guy. That’s the heart and soul of its defense.”
Should Davis miss the game, freshman David Reese would likely start in his place alongside redshirt junior Alex Anzalone. Reese is currently eighth on the team in tackles with 14 (one for loss), whereas Davis is the Gators’ leading tackler with 48 (3.5 for loss). Davis has also registered two sacks, four pass breakups and three quarterback hurries this season.
“When he’s come in, he’s showed up, he shows up on the stat line,” head coach Jim McElwain explained after the game. “Obviously missing Jarrad is huge — here’s your team leader and your guy that’s played so many snaps — and yet, here’s the great thing when you look at that unit: There wasn’t a panic. David came in and, I thought, played with great energy and attention to detail and made a couple really good inside tackles.”