Gators hurting for linebackers
Published: Thursday, October 9, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, October 9, 2003 at 1:02 a.m.
With all the injuries at linebacker, the Gators are dangerously thin at those three positions heading into Saturday's game against a strong LSU running game.
The starters are Matt Farrior, Reid Fleming and true freshman Earl Everett, who will be making his third career start in place of the injured Channing Crowder. The backups - true freshman Howard Lingard, redshirt freshman Taurean Charles and redshirt freshman Brian Crum - have seen almost all their playing time on special teams.
"It's a concern, no question," UF coach Ron Zook said. "But it is what it is and we are going to try and cover up as much as possible. There is not a lot you can do about it."
Zook said the three starters probably played too many plays in the loss to Ole Miss last Saturday. The UF defense eventually wore down in the fourth quarter.
Fleming said he's prepared to go the distance in Baton Rouge.
"We've had a few injuries there and you're always prepared to play the whole game," he said. "(Strength and conditioning coordinator) Rob Glass has us in the best shape we've ever been in. He got us in shape for this type of situation.
"We want to play the whole game and be out there as much as possible. We're kind of thin right now. Matt Farrior did a great job and Earl Everett, as a freshman, did a great job playing as many plays as he did. We want to be on the field as much as possible. I really don't think it's an issue."
Crowder, who underwent arthroscopic knee surgery last week, is on schedule to return for the Oct. 18 Arkansas game. Former starting linebacker Todd McCullough (shoulder) is out for the season, while reserve outside linebacker Dwright Jackson (shoulder) is out indefinitely.
Crowder and defensive tackle Kenny Parker (knee) saw some very limited practice time and will be evaluated later in the week. Parker is also expected to miss Saturday's game, but could return for the Oct. 18 Arkansas game.
LSU and head coach Nick Saban are asking their fans to wear white to Saturday's game in Baton Rouge, with white T-shirts printed just for the occasion.
The last time the school tried to ``white out'' an opponent was seven years ago this week.
In 1996 then Vanderbilt coach Rod Dowhower refused to agree to let LSU wear its traditional white jerseys at home. An exception to the NCAA rule, pushed through by former LSU and Vandy coach Gerry DiNardo (now at Indiana) allows home teams to wear white with their opponent's permission.
On a similar note, former UF coach Steve Spurrier once agreed to let LSU wear white at home only if the Tigers did the same the next year in Gainesville. The Tigers wore gold jerseys in a 22-10 loss at Florida in 1998.
You can reach Robbie Andreu by e-mail at email@example.com or by calling (352) 374-5022.
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