When the No. 10 Florida Gators (8-1, 6-1 SEC) line up Saturday on the road against the South Carolina Gamecocks, the recently crowned SEC East champions may be without up to three defensive starters.
Head coach Jim McElwain announced Monday that junior defensive tackle Joey Ivie is out with an undisclosed injury, senior defensive lineman Jonathan Bullard is “probably doubtful” with “an arm deal,” and junior safety Keanu Neal is “questionable with a foot.”
Should all three miss the game, the Gators would not only lose a heavy-snap player in Ivie but also their best pressure guy in Bullard (13.0 tackles for loss, 5.0 sacks) and third-leading tackler in Neal (55).
Redshirt sophomore Jordan Sherit and freshman CeCe Jefferson would take Bullard’s snaps when he lines up at defensive end, though Sherit is suspended for the first half of the South Carolina game after being called for targeting in the second half against Vanderbilt. Redshirt freshman Khairi Clark would pick up Bullard’s snaps on the interior.
If Neal is unable to go, redshirt sophomore Marcell Harris and sophomore Duke Dawson would see additional snaps in the defensive backfield, though it is unknown if either would start in his place. Of course, Neal sounds like the most likely of the three injured players to actually see the field on Saturday.
Not all news is bad news for Florida on the injury front. Sophomore David Sharpe (foot) and freshman Martez Ivey (knee) should both be good to go for Saturday’s game, though Sharpe is technically listed as “day-to-day” after being listed as doubtful to play against Vanderbilt but still suiting up and seeing the field in order to help a struggling unit.