Florida football roster may be on its way to being churned as bad as 4-8 season

By Adam Silverstein
October 9, 2017
Florida football roster may be on its way to being churned as bad as 4-8 season

Image Credit: ESPN Images

Disaster may be awaiting the Florida Gators over the final weeks of the 2017 season.

Let’s face it, Florida started this year in a hole. Beginning a campaign with 10 players suspended for your toughest season opener in decades is a downer, but the fact that nine of them — including your top returning wide receiver and running back — remain out indefinitely and may not return before year’s end is crushing.

Add in the Gators’ seemingly endless injury issues, and Year 3 under head coach Jim McElwain has the potential to fall off the rails the way Year 3 under Will Muschamp did in 2013.

Forget the early losses and Florida’s inability to put a consistent offense on the field as similarities for a moment. Let’s look at the Gators’ absentee situation after McElwain announced a rash of additional injuries to his team following Saturday’s game.

UF will be without most — and possibly all — of these players on Saturday when it hosts the Texas A&M Aggies at 7 p.m. ET.

DB Marcell Harris — starter: Tore his Achilles before the season.
WR Antonio Callaway — starter: One of nine players suspended for credit card fraud.
RB Jordan Scarlett — starter: Another of nine players suspended for credit card fraud.
QB Luke Del Rio — starter: Broke his collarbone in his first start of the season against Vanderbilt, out for the season.
DT Keivonnis Davis: One of nine players suspended for credit card fraud.

WR Tyrie Cleveland — starter: Replaced Callaway as No. 1 receiver, suffered high-ankle sprain in win over Vanderbilt.
DB Nick Washington — starter: One of two upperclassmen starting in the secondary, re-injured his hurt shoulder in loss to LSU.
DB Chauncey Gardner — starter: Hurt his ankle in loss to LSU.
LB Jeremiah Moon — starter: One of four legitimate players at a thin position, hurt in loss to LSU.
LG Brett Heggie — starter: Suffered a concussion in loss to LSU.
WR Kadarius Toney: Big-play threat and constant offensive presence, though not a starter in name, hurt in loss to LSU.

To sum it up, taking all injuries and suspensions into account, the Gators may be entering the middle of their schedule without four of their top five offensive playmakers, their most experienced quarterback, a starting offensive lineman, three secondary starters and a starting linebacker from a very thin unit.

Consider that when Florida went 4-8 in 2013, the Gators ended the season with 20 starters missing one or more games due to injury. Only five starters played every game. UF is not there yet, which is some positive news for the team and more importantly the players’ health.

But then again, it’s only the beginning of October. The 2013 Gators were 4-2 at this time that year and on their way to losing the final seven games of the season starting with a 17-6 loss to LSU. Florida is presently 3-2 (would likely have been 4-2 had it played a scheduled game against Northern Colorado) and just fell 17-16 to LSU. And unlike that 2013 team, UF does not have enough quality depth — specifically on defense — to combat some of these losses.

With the way the Gators are playing and the quality of their remaining opponents, anything more than a 3-3 split to finish the year would be a mild surprise. Georgia looks like one of the five best teams in the country, Texas A&M just put up a major fight against Alabama, and Florida State is still strong talent-wise despite the loss of its starting quarterback. Missouri is capable of scoring a ton of points, and South Carolina already beat Mizzou and Arkansas while putting up a fight against TAMU.

This week — both in the training facility and on the field Saturday — is going to be a turning point for Florida in 2017. Either the Gators get it together — health and quality of play — or things may fall off a cliff like they did for UF’s last embattled coach.


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