Injuries hit offensive line hard
Published: Monday, September 29, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, September 30, 2008 at 12:34 a.m.
Including preseason injuries, No. 12 Florida (3-1, 1-1 SEC) has a handful of starters sidelined.
Not only did UF lose to unranked Mississippi at home Saturday, it lost some key players on both sides of the ball.
The most significant injuries are on offense where UF's line, the strength of the team heading into the season, is really dinged up.
The player of most concern is redshirt senior lineman Jim Tartt. Tartt made his season debut against Tennessee and left after the first series against Ole Miss when he re-aggravated a nagging shoulder injury.
Tartt has had three surgeries on the same shoulder since he's been at UF and coach Urban Meyer admitted Monday that he can't depend on Tartt to be healthy for more than one game at a time.
"I hate to say that," Meyer said, "but there's probably some truth to that."
Meyer didn't rule Tartt out for this Saturday's game against Arkansas, but the staff is being "very cautious" with him.
To make matters worse, Tartt's backup, redshirt sophomore Marcus Gilbert left the Ole Miss game with a sprained ankle. Gilbert is in a boot and will be re-evaluated Wednesday, but is "doubtful" for Saturday. Redshirt sophomore Maurice Hurt (shoulder) is also out.
If neither Tartt nor Gilbert can go, Meyer said redshirt sophomore Carl Johnson will start at the guard position. Redshirt freshman James Wilson and redshirt junior Ron Wilson are also in the mix. Meyer is considering burning freshman David Young's redshirt or inserting freshman defensive lineman Matt Patchan into the rotation. Freshman Sam Robey is also expected back soon.
Running back Emmanuel Moody is "very doubtful" for the game because of a high ankle sprain, Meyer said. Moody limped off the field late in the second quarter Saturday and never returned. Moody will be re-evaluated Wednesday.
Meyer said he won't move converted linebacker Mon Williams back to running back for the extra depth.
On defense, UF could be without junior linebacker Dustin Doe, who played last Saturday's game with what Meyer called "double hernia issues." Redshirt junior linebacker Ryan Stamper (ankle), who missed the game, is questionable this Saturday.
"We're down," Meyer said. "I think we got eight starters out. That's a tough deal."
LSU game time
Florida's Oct. 11 game with LSU in The Swamp will be played in prime time.
CBS announced that it has picked UF-LSU as the second game of its doubleheader that day, with an 8 p.m. kickoff. The network's 3:30 p.m. game will be Tennessee at Georgia.
Meyer knows how important it is to start and finish halfs and his Gator teams have a history of coming out flat after halftime. Saturday reaffirmed that.
"The last five minutes before half and the first five minutes of the second half, coach (Lou) Holtz would always say those are critical," he said. "Our first five before the half have been pretty good. Our first five after have not been very good.
"I remember the Arkansas game two years ago in the SEC Championship game (the first five minutes of the second half) was awful. We came out and just handed the ball to them and we rallied back. We're (ahead) 17-7 this week and come out and didn't play very well. Twice the ball (was) right on the ground."
Meyer said he leaves it up to evaluation and management to get his players ready at halftime.
"It's just constant evaluation, there's no pixie dust that you sprinkle on their shoes or something like that," he said. "You just evaluate what kind of team you got. Do you jump their tail? We're more of a make adjustments, here's our plan and let's go (team)."
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