Gators OT Tyler Moore falls off scooter, breaks elbow; sixth Florida starter out for the season

The Florida Gators have lost their sixth starter – fifth on the offensive side of the ball – due to injury as redshirt sophomore tackle Tyler Moore is out for the remainder of the season after falling off a scooter and breaking his right elbow Tuesday night.

Moore was returning home from dinner at the dining hall following practice.

“Unfortunately, last night Tyler Moore was riding home on his scooter, came around a curve there, back tire came out from underneath him and he got a compound fracture of his elbow. He’s having surgery as we speak, so he’ll be out for the season. We’ll know more about his prognosis and how low [he'll be out] after the surgery, obviously,” head coach Will Muschamp confirmed Wednesday during his weekly appearance on the Southeastern Conference football coaches’ teleconference.

“He’s a good young man and has really done everything we’ve asked on and off the field. He’s an outstanding member of our football team, and it’s just very unfortunate.

“I just hurt for him.”

It has been a rough season for Moore, a transfer from Nebraska who did not play in 2012. He was expected to be a depth addition to Florida’s roster but was forced to replacing redshirt junior Chaz Green (torn labrum – season) as the starting right tackle. Moore struggled in the first seven games of the season and was especially bad against Missouri when he committed multiple penalties and gave up a number of sacks.

“I just tried to get over it as quick as I could, still felt a little bad after the game and into the bye week. But slowly throughout the bye week, tried to work as hard as I could to show them that I was ready to play for the next game and slowly feeling like myself again,” said Moore on Tuesday about his performance at Mizzou.

The Gators began working with junior Trenton Brown (6-foot-8, 360-pounds) at right tackle, but Moore was suddenly thrust back into the starting lineup when sophomore left tackle D.J. Humphries (sprained MCL) went down in practice last Monday.

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Time for change on Florida’s most offensive line

How poor has play been throughout the Florida Gators’ offensive line over the last two weeks? Consider the fact that opposing defensive linemen are racking up weekly awards from the Southeastern Conference each Monday by having career games against Florida’s atrocious front on Saturday.

Two weekends ago, LSU sophomore defensive end Danielle Hunter put together the “most complete game of his career,” according to his school, with seven tackles including one for loss (on third down) and two pass breakups in just his fourth career start. He was named SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week.

The Tigers’ defense dominated the Gators’ offensive line, holding Florida to 240 total yards while recording season-highs of four sacks, eight tackles for loss and five quarterback hurries.

It was more of the same last Saturday when Missouri redshirt senior DE Michael Sam tore up UF’s offensive front. Sam knocked Florida back 22 yards on three sacks and registered one more tackle and quarterback hurry on the afternoon. He was named SEC Defensive Player of the Week.

These Tigers held the Gators to just 61 yards of total offense in the first half.

Florida’s offense certainly has its share of problems, both on and off the field, but the most but the biggest is undoubtedly the incredibly offensive play of its line.

“We’re inept offensively. We have a hard time running it and certainly can’t protect very well,” Muschamp said after the loss to Mizzou. “We’re struggling right now to get the right combination, to get guys blocked, the run and the pass game. We’re doing everything we can do. We shuffle guys around. We just got to get better.”

The biggest issue for the Gators has been the play of its tackles.

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Limping, struggling Gators down but not out

When looking at why the No. 22/22 Florida Gators (4-2, 3-1 SEC) have already taken a step back from the impressive 11-2 season they put together a year ago, start with the fact that the program is currently without 18 players that either started in 2012 or replaced last year’s starters in 2013 and has also been forced to demote two more starters due to severe lack of production.

The Gators lost 13 starters from their 2012 squad including nine seniors that graduated and four juniors that declared for the 2013 NFL Draft.

Florida entered 2013 without incumbents at left tackle, left guard, running back, wide receiver, tight end and kicker. UF also had to replace the entire interior of its defense including both defensive tackles, all three linebackers and both safeties.

The Gators have lost five more starters to season-ending injuries since Aug. 7.

Redshirt junior right tackle Chaz Green (shoulder) and redshirt senior kick returner Andre Debose (torn ACL) were both knocked out before the season began. Then, over a 22-day span from Sept. 21 to Oct. 12, Florida lost junior quarterback Jeff Driskel (broken fibula), senior defensive tackle Dominique Easley (torn ACL), and on Saturday, sophomore running back Matt Jones (torn meniscus).

Head coach Will Muschamp acknowledged Monday that he has never experienced a more injury-plagued season in more than two decades manning the sidelines.

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Gators RB Matt Jones out for the season

Florida Gators sophomore running back Matt Jones was officially ruled out for the remainder of the 2013 season on Monday after tearing his meniscus early in the first half of his team’s 17-6 loss to the LSU Tigers on Saturday afternoon.

“Very disappointed that Matt Jones will be out for the season. He’s having surgery as we speak,” head coach Will Muschamp announced during his weekly press conference on Monday. “We thought it was a sprain in the knee. Turns out it was a torn meniscus. He definitely will be out.”

Muschamp said after Saturday’s game that trainers did not think the injury to Jones’s left knee was serious but would evaluate it further after returning to Gainesville, FL.

“Very unfortunate. I hate it for Matt,” he added. “He’s a great young man. And to go through what he’s been through this fall, missing most of fall camp, working his way back in shape, starting to feel good about himself as far as how he felt physically, mentally. And then to have this setback is just disheartening for all of us.”

Jones sat out nearly all of fall camp while recovering from a serious viral infection and missed the first game of the season against Toledo as a precaution.

He returned at Miami but struggled in his first action back, fumbling the ball and picking up just 47 yards on 18 carries.

Jones finally broke out three weeks later at Kentucky, taking a career-high 28 touches for a career-high 176 yards while scoring a touchdown for the second-straight week.

He totaled 339 yards and two touchdowns in just over four full games.

Redshirt junior Mack Brown will step in for Jones as Florida’s primary running back. As the starter against Toledo, Brown had a career game by rushing for 112 yards and two touchdowns on 25 touches.

He is averaging 3.7 yards per carry in 2013.

Freshman Kelvin Taylor will also see his workload increase. He is averaging 6.1 yards per carry this season and was second on the Gators with 52 yards on Saturday at LSU.

Jones is the fifth starter Florida has lost for the season joining junior quarterback Jeff Driskel, senior defensive tackle Dominique Easley, redshirt junior right tackle Chaz Green and redshirt senior kick returner Andre Debose on the mend.

A surgically-repaired torn meniscus usually requires at least two months of recovery before rehabilitation. The Gators did not provide a specific timetable for Jones but should have one after the surgery is completed.

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Gators DT Dominique Easley out for the season

Florida Gators senior defensive tackle Dominique Easley, a leader of the defense and one of the unit’s most explosive players through the team’s three games, will miss the rest of the 2013 season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and medial meniscus in his right knee during practice on Tuesday.

Head coach Will Muschamp officially announced Easley’s injury on Wednesday afternoon after downplaying it earlier in the day during the weekly SEC football coaches’ media teleconference.

“I talked to Dominique and the team this afternoon and we will continue to look for his leadership and experience throughout the season. Watching any of your players go through this is one of the hardest things about being a coach,” he said in a school release. “Obviously, it is hardest on Dominique. We are disappointed for him, but we will be there for him every step of the way through his surgery and rehab process.”

“It was non-contact,” said defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin on Wednesday. “He was turning, running on a screen pass and just tweaked it a little bit, it looked like on tape.”

Easley is the second big-time starter and team leader to go down for the Gators in a four-day span as Florida also lost junior quarterback Jeff Driskel to a broken right fibula during Saturday’s 31-17 victory over Tennessee.

“Gatornation thank you for all of 4 yrs of sticking wi th me but god has something else planned for and have no worries #believe,” he wrote on his Twitter account.

He is also the sixth UF player (fourth starter) to suffer a season-ending injury joining Driskel (ACL), redshirt junior right tackle Chaz Green (labrum), redshirt senior wide receiver Andre Debose (ACL), freshman defensive back Nick Washington (shoulder) and freshman linebacker Matt Rolin (ACL). Green, Debose and Rolin were each knocked out for the season during fall camp.

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Four more Florida Gators – Purifoy, Cummings, Pittman, Williams – suspended for opener

Updated on Aug. 31 at 10 a.m.

Sophomore linebacker Antonio Morrison will not be the only Florida Gators player suspended for the season opener against the Toledo Rockets as the school officially announced on Saturday morning that four more players – including junior cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy, senior defensive tackle Darious Cummings, sophomore wide receiver Latroy Pittman and redshirt freshman offensive lineman Quinteze Williams – will also be held out of action for violations of team rules.

Reports of these suspensions began leaking Friday evening, when OnlyGators.com reached out to Florida for comment, but the Gators did not officially confirm the suspensions until sending a tweet Saturday morning.

Asked Wednesday during the weekly Southeastern Conference football coaches teleconference if any other players besides Morrison would miss the game due to disciplinary reasons, Muschamp answered, “No, not at this time.”

Based on the depth chart released by Florida on Monday, Purifoy is the only one of the five that would have otherwise started against the Rockets. Senior CB Jaylen Watkins, one of three first-string cornerbacks, will start in his place.

Cummings is second on the depth chart behind senior Dominique Easley, while Pittman is listed as a second-stringer at the F position behind junior Trey Burton.

Williams is not on the two-deep depth chart.

The Gators lost 13 starters from the 2012 season and will be without six total would-be starters for the 2013 season opener including Morrison (suspension), Purifoy (suspension), sophomore running back Matt Jones (illness), redshirt senior right guard Jon Halapio (torn pectoral), redshirt senior WR Andre Debose (torn ACL) and redshirt junior right tackle Chaz Green (labrum).

Jones and the five suspended players will likely be eligible to return on Sept. 7 on the road at Miami, while Halapio is set to play his first game on Sept. 21 at home against Tennessee. Debose and Green are out for the season with their respective injuries.

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Pease talks Dunbar and Robinson, Gators offense

Florida Gators offensive coordinator Brent Pease met with the media on Tuesday, four days before the 2013 season opener against Toledo on Aug. 31.

MAXIMIZING TALENT AT RECEIVER

With junior Quinton Dunbar and freshman Demarcus Robinson both listed as X wide receivers (Dunbar the starter and Robinson as second-string) on the first depth chart of the fall, many began wondering whether Florida would try to get both players on the field at the same time to maximize the talent at the position and give junior quarterback Jeff Driskel as many weapons as possible.

Both Pease and head coach Will Muschamp said previously that they want to bring Robinson along slow, ensuring he knows the X receiver spot perfectly before trying to move him around the field, which would mean Dunbar lining up elsewhere while Robinson has his helmet on. Pease on Tuesday addressed whether that is something that will likely happen during games.

“There will be situations like that. One thing with Quinton, you know, he’s a kid that’s been in it. Actually Quinton last year was a Z and we moved him to the X,” Pease said. “He knows the Z and will be inside for us sometimes. He’s a guy with experience. He’s learned the spots. … He’s a kid we can move around now.”

Robinson, despite being supremely talented, does not have the in-game experience just yet. Nevertheless, Pease noted this week that he is ahead of schedule for a player his age and should be an important contributor for the Gators this season.

“Oh yeah. Yeah, that guy is really developed for a young kid. Physically, he’s developed. He’s got a lot of talent. He’s got great hands,” Pease said. “You always want to see consistency, how you’re going to perform … and understand your routine and develop your trade and your professionalism, how you’re going to approach it. … With him, I think he’s getting to that point. He’s comfortable with things. He’s playing on his instincts. Now, let’s see you do it in the game because that’s what it’s going to come down to. …

“Is the kid going to make mistakes? Yes, because he’s a freshman. Does he have the ability to be fun to watch? Absolutely. Is he fun to be around and coach? Absolutely.”

PLAYER THOUGHTS AND EVALUATIONS

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Florida RT Chaz Green (labrum) out for the season, RB Matt Jones should return next week

Game Week – Monday: Opening Week Depth Chart | LB Antonio Morrison’s Suspension Reduced | New Mr. Two Bits, Muschamp on Tight Ends, Opener

Head coach Will Muschamp on Monday announced that the Florida Gators have lost a second starter for the year as redshirt junior right tackle Chaz Green tore his labrum in practice last Tuesday and will undergo season-ending surgery on Wednesday.

“Really disappointing news with Chaz Green. He’s going to have to have surgery this week to repair a labrum,” Muschamp said. “It happened in last Tuesday’s practice, felt it was OK, got the MRI back Friday afternoon. Chaz was playing his best football, playing extremely well, had certainly solidified himself at the right tackle spot.”

Muschamp also announced that sophomore starting running back Matt Jones, who is still recovering from a serious viral infection, is expected to be cleared to play the second week of the season at Miami on Sept. 7.

“Matt Jones continues to progress and do well. I certainly think he will be available next week,” he said. “He’s getting some more blood work done today as we work through it. Unless we have some sort of setback, I certainly think that’s going to happen.”

Muschamp continued: “He’s running, he’s cutting, he’s lifting. We haven’t put pads on him yet and he hasn’t gone out in the heat yet [with pads]. He’s been out in the heat as far as running is concerned. They’re just worried about a relapse from the standpoint of coming back too early. That’s what we’re waiting on the blood work to get back for him today. I’ll know more [Monday] afternoon or [Tuesday]. I saw him [Sunday]; he looks great. But again, I’m not a doctor.”

Green joins redshirt senior kick return Andre Debose (torn ACL) as starters lost for the 2013 campaign. Debose was also expected to see significant time at wide receiver.

Redshirt sophomore transfer Tyler Moore will take Green’s place in the starting lineup, just as he did during spring practice when Green was sidelined with an ankle injury. Junior transfer Trenton Brown will serve as the back-up.

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