Depleted roster: Gators making do with available players

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Florida is dealing with low roster numbers. UF was without 28 scholarship players last week at Missouri. [Cyndi Chambers/Correspondent]

 

Coaches and players don’t like to make excuses, so that can be avoided by simply stating there is one big reason the bottom has fallen out of Florida’s season in back-to-back blowout losses to Georgia and Missouri.

A lack of players.

Not necessarily a lack of talent, but a lack of sheer numbers thanks to multiple injuries and player suspensions.

Florida’s roster is so depleted that it could be mistaken for a team on NCAA probation that has been slapped with severe scholarship limitations.

The Gators are down 25 scholarship players at the moment, leaving just 56 scholarship players on what could be considered the active roster going into Saturday’s game at South Carolina. UF has only 11 less walk-ons than scholarship players on that roster.

The Gators were without 28 scholarship players in the loss to Missouri last Saturday.

“It’s tough. It’s real tough when you have a lot of injuries like we do,” interim head coach Randy Shannon said.

Couple the injuries with the nine suspensions, and it’s a potentially crippling combination.

Here is what the Gators are without at the moment:

  • Starting quarterback Luke Del Rio.
  • Last season’s leading rusher (Jordan Scarlett) and leading receiver (Antonio Callaway).
  • This season’s leading rusher (Malik Davis).
  • Two of the biggest playmakers on offense (Davis and wide receiver Kadarius Toney).
  • Starting defensive ends Jachai Polite and Jordan Sherit.
  • Starting safeties Marcell Harris and Nick Washington.
  • Starting linebacker Kylan Johnson
  • Starting offensive guard Brent Heggie.

The overall loss of talent is staggering and has clearly had an impact on the season, especially in these last two games where the Gators had a difficult time competing.

Here’s what the Gators have been left with:

  • Two true freshmen starting in the secondary (Marco Wilson and CJ Henderson), and eight other true freshmen making considerable contributions.
  • A former walk-on (Cristian Garcia) starting at linebacker
  • Little or no depth at defensive end, linebacker, cornerback, safety, wide receiver, on the offensive line and on special teams.

Shannon and his staff have been left with no choice but try and do more with less. And that hasn’t been working so well.

The Gators have been forced to play many freshmen and young, inexperienced players who, in some cases, are still far from reaching their potential.

“We’ve got a lot of young guys. They’re really new to it,” junior defensive tackle Taven Bryan said. “The coaches say they’re not really young anymore, they haven’t really stepped up quite yet. I think they’re finally ready to show you guys what they’ve got.”

The Gators have been embracing the next-man-up mentality since the nine players were suspended in August. It has continued on a weekly basis throughout the season.

The coaches and players aren’t making excuses, but the reality is suspensions and all the injuries have negatively impacted the season.

Shannon gives a good example of how thinned out the Gators have become as the injury list has grown.

“We take the starting (outside) linebacker and put him at defensive end (for the Missouri game),” Shannon said. “We put (Jeremiah) Moon at defensive end. Moon has never touched defensive end since not even in high school, but we had a week to try to get him ready because that’s all we have right now. We’re moving him and (defensive tackle) Luke (Ancrum) back and forth at defensive end, but Luke never played defensive end.”

The diminishing numbers are making it a tough situation for Shannon and his staff. All they can do is keep trying to coach up the players they do have.

“The injuries come,” Shannon said. “Whoever’s on that football field at that time, we have to coach them. I hate to say it that way, not making excuses, but that’s just part of what we’ve got. We are depleted, but we’re not depleted to the point … we’ve still got pride and we’ve got guys who believe in Florida. And we’re just going to continue to play those guys and get those guys in the best situations we can to now respond and come up this upcoming week.”

Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or robbie.andreu@gvillesun.com. Also check out Andreu’s blog at Gatorsports.com.


Up next

Who: Florida (3-5, 3-4 SEC) vs. South Carolina (6-3, 4-3)

When: 12 p.m. Saturday

Where: Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia

TV: CBS

Radio: 103.7-FM, AM-850


 

22 COMMENTS

  1. Remember 3 weeks ago Dooley saying Gators going 4-7 isn’t going to happen… He was right, looking more like 3-8. What a dumpster fire we have right now. I question how hurt some of these boys actually are and it being more likely that they just have quit on this season… Can’t wait for next season.

  2. ”Little or no depth at defensive end, linebacker, corner-back, safety, wide receiver, on the offensive line and on special teams.” ~Gatorsports.com
    The wide-receivers and O-line positions, despite injuries and suspensions, should not have a ”depletion” problem, in my opinion (since Mac is an ”offensive mentor”, and had been here for going on 3 years).
    But I do agree that recruiting deficiencies are showing up, because as always, attrition is showing its ugly head. And it seems like a totally different football season back when (former) Coach Mac famously said, ”we’re going to kick in the doors in Atlanta.”

  3. I heard that Tennessee at one point in their game Saturday had only 5 scholarship players on the field. I also heard on ESPN today that no one could remember when a pro style offense had beaten a Saban coached team. Maybe the next gator coach will take that into consideration. It will be interesting to see what happens when Bama and Georgia meet up

  4. I have been waiting for this article and I totally agree. If you take off your Gator glasses and look at other teams around the country it is easy to see what has happened. Clemson loses their QG for a half…loss, FSU loses their QB for the season #2 team to junk. On and on it goes except we loose 9 to being idiots, then many more to injuries in some cases because guys are playing out of position. Add it all up and the article is 100% is correct. If most teams see a drop off with one key guy hurt, why would Gator fans not expect a drop off when 25 guys are out.

    Its tough to watch, and I’m glad Mac is gone, and hope that the fan base can lay off the negativity that is likely if we lose out which is possible, or it is less likely we pull out of this mess by getting a good coach.

    There are 22 starters then, kickers, etc. A few are duplicates 2 guards etc, but 22 have to be on the field as no one plays both ways. 56 players/23 positions = 2.4 players per position vs a full roster of 85/23 = 3.69 players per spot. The struggle is easy to understand.

    My suggestion be supportive and hope for a good hire. Quit harpng on Nuss cause it isn’t going to change before the end of the year at this point. Good day.

    • Trenton this is what I’ve been saying all year long and all the responses I get from the delusional side of the fan base is excuses excuses. They had 9 starters out with injury last season too and people were still shocked they were getting blown out by FSU and Bama and calling for Mac to be fired. This team could only have 9 players available to play offense and the delusional fans would say that’s just an excuse, this team should still be putting up 40 pts a game cause this is Florida and our 10th stringers should be better than everyone else. I have no idea when this fan base became so delusional and blind to reality, but it’s embarrassing. All I know is they better come back from that dream world real quickly or they’ll run another coach out of town before they know it.

  5. The ESPN article explained today that Sticklin wanted McElwain to change the Strength and Conditioning coach at the end of last year (Kemp) because the program was disorganized and was not meeting the player development standards of a SEC team. McElwain refused to fire him. And this is what Gatornation and the Florida players get as a result.

    • The article also stated that Stricklin wanted McElwain to relieve Nussmeier of his OC duties at the end of last year as well because he did not like the direction of the offense. Again, McElwain refused to make the change and this total disaster of an offense is the result of McElwain resistance to work with others and take advice, including that of Steve Spurrier who stated in the press box at halftime of the Missouri game, “Whatever happened to the down the field pass?” Nussmeier happened.

      • Thanks for that insight, now it makes even more sense that Stricklin took the opportunity of McElwain’s boneheaded death threat claim to fire him for cause. McElwain’s attempt at a slap to the fans provided Stricklin the perfect opportunity to get rid of a problem.

      • That same article also said Stricklin fully supported Mac and Foley didn’t and always butted heads with him. Not sure someone who fully supports a coach would throw them under the bus like Stricken did after the death threat situation. I guess you can pick and choose what you’d like to believe from an article full of speculation. The only thing I really believe is the stuff about Spurrier.

  6. Any further criticism at this juncture is pointless. I have certainly contributed my share of venting, but it is time to get behind what is left of this team 100%. Now, by not giving-up on this team, we can go a long way toward teaching these youngsters what it really means to be Gators. We can teach them not to quit, to keep their heads up and in the game, and to take pride in each and every moment they wear the Orange and Blue. Most likely the coaches will be gone next year. We won’t. Nor will most of the players. “In all kinds of weather…” these guys need us. So, here is a chance for us to actually do something to help the team. A rare opportunity for a fan base to have a large and long-term impact on the program that goes beyond cheering for a good play or boasting of a win. It is our turn now. Go Gators!

  7. All I know is I’m a gator WIN, LOSE, OR DRAW, even after I’m dead and gone. It hurts like hell, it hurts so bad and its depressing. These are times where we have to develop iron stomachs and iron hearts and stick it through, through thick and thin. The losing is very hard, but when I have Georgia fans and FSU fans literally pointing at me and laughing, that’s when it’s toughest. That’s what I can’t handle. But I’m gonna deal with it. I had a Georgia fan look at me Sunday morning, and he just started laughing. I had another Georgia fan look at me and stare. I just don’t understand how Kirby can go to Georgia and turn it around in two years, and we’ve had 3 head coaches, soon to be 4 in the process. I just don’t understand why UF can’t find a good coach. UF is currently paying TWO former head coaches. I don’t see any other programs doing that.