[Updated: 2:24 p.m.] Florida likely will be without its leading receiver and biggest offensive playmaker against LSU on Saturday in The Swamp.
Wide receiver Tyrie Cleveland sustained a high ankle sprain in the fourth quarter against Vanderbilt last Saturday and is expected to miss Saturday’s game, UF coach Jim McElwain said Monday.
“Tyrie Cleveland will be out, expect him to be out anyways,” McElwain said. “He’s in a boot right now. You know, the dreaded not normal ankle (sprain), but high ankle, which means he should be ready hopefully for the spring game moving forward.”
Cleveland injured his right ankle when a Vanderbilt defender rolled up on his lower leg while Cleveland was blocking on a running play.
Cleveland, who caught the game-winning 63-yard touchdown pass on the final play against Tennessee two weeks ago, is the Gators’ leading receiver with 15 catches for 326 yards. He’s averaging 21.7 yards per reception. UF’s second-leading receiver is true freshman Kadarius Toney. The former quarterback has 11 receptions for 107 yards.
“It definitely hurts a lot,” sophomore wide receiver Josh Hammond said. “He was definitely a big problem for defenses. Definitely a big, vertical, deep threat and definitely helped take things off a lot of other guys. It’ll be a next-man-up mentality and I think other guys in our room will be ready to play.
“Definitely, we’ll be ready. We’ll just come and prepare like we always do and just expect the ball to come our way a little more.”
Through the first four games, Cleveland has been the Gators’ big-play receiver. UF has had four receptions of 40 yards or longer, all by Cleveland, who’s had receptions of 45, 49, 50 and 63 yards. There have been only two receptions of 30 yards or longer, one each by Hammond and Freddie Swain.
“He’s obviously been a guy on the deep stuff. We’re going to have to (have others step up),” McElwain said. “These guys are really good in the back end now. It isn’t like you’re going to run by them. Freddie and Josh have been playing really good. Those guys. And I think it’ll be next man up.”
Cleveland produced one the biggest plays of last season in the upset at LSU, catching a 98-yard touchdown pass from Austin Appleby that swung the momentum in Florida’s favor.
Senior safety Duke Dawson said he’s confident UF’s other receivers will combine to compensate for the loss of Cleveland.
“Next man up, that’s what I can say,” Dawson said. “You can’t put all the weight on Tyrie’s shoulders. It’s always the next man up and I feel like those guys are going to do a great job this weekend, coming in and preparing the right way.”
On Sunday, Cleveland wrote on his Twitter account: “I’m good, just bang up, got the best trainers in the business. #Thank You All.”
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out Andreu’s blog at Gatorsports.com.
Who: LSU (3-2, 0-1 SEC) vs. No. 21 Florida (3-1, 3-0)
When: 3:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Steve Spurrier-Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium
Radio: 103.7-FM, AM-850