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The injury woes have not slowed down for the Florida Gators. In fact, they’ve intensified with non-game injuries and now hampering Florida’s chances against the Florida State Seminoles even more on Saturday night.
In addition to the six injured starters who will not return for the Noles game (more on them below), the Gators lost redshirt junior safety Nick Washington, who will be out with a high-ankle sprain, in their win over LSU. Then on Wednesday, head coach Jim McElwain announced that sophomore offensive lineman Martez Ivey is doubtful for the game with a leg injury that kept him out at least the first two days of practice this week.
Should Ivey miss the game — McElwain cautioned that doubtful is not “out” and Ivey will give it his all — that would put Florida without nearly half of its starters. It would also mean the Gators have lost at least two players per week for the month of November.
Joining Washington and likely Ivey as out for Saturday’s road game … Redshirt junior linebacker Alex Anzalone and senior safety Marcus Maye are both out for the season with broken arms. Senior LB Jarrad Davis (ankle), redshirt junior center Cameron Dillard (knee), redshirt senior defensive end Bryan Cox Jr. and redshirt sophomore quarterback Luke Del Rio (shoulder) will also be out with Davis, Dillard and Del Rio missing their third straight games.
With Washington out, freshman defensive back Chauncey Gardner will take over the starting duties. Junior DB Duke Dawson will rotate as well. “Nick did such a great job on special teams. We’re going to need somebody to step up and dial those roles where Chauncey can’t do what he’s doing all the time,” McElwain said. This guy’s been really effective in what we’re doing on special teams.”
McElwain credits Gardner’s energy as one reason he has been able to flourish this season. He also thinks Maye serving as a mentor to the first-year player has helped Gardner come along faster. “I see him spending extra time studying. I see him taking a responsibility for knowing how to do the special teams stuff that people take for granted,” McElwain said. “It’s a huge part of the game, and he’s owned it. And that’s been fun to see. And to see his growth from this guy that just likes to talk a bunch to actually be able to back it up a little bit. That’s all right.”
Should Ivey miss the game as expected, redshirt sophomore OL Kavaris Harkless will see extended action. Sophomore starter Tyler Jordan, who himself has been hampered with an ankle injury, will likely be in for even more snaps than anticipated to help fill gaps.
McElwain did say the Gators will see redshirt senior running back Mark Herndon return from injury, which he stressed “would be huge” for special teams.