Notebook: Brantley 'fine' to play Saturday, Meyer says


Published: Thursday, October 7, 2010 at 10:02 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, October 7, 2010 at 10:02 p.m.

After finishing a week of practice, Florida coach Urban Meyer said John Brantley is ready for Saturday.

The junior quarterback began the week hampered by a rib injury he suffered toward the end of last week's Alabama game and was limited throughout practices. Backups Trey Burton and Jordan Reed took some snaps at quarterback, but Meyer said Brantley left Thursday's practice in better health than at any other point this week.

"He was limited mostly throwing, so we had someone go in there and throw the ball a little bit because his ribs were so sore," Meyer said after Thursday's practice. "He's fine, now."

One player still battling a nagging injury is junior running back Jeff Demps, who sprained his foot against Kentucky two weeks ago. Slowed by it at Bama, Meyer said Demps was limited this week and while he'll play, he won't be 100 percent.

"We expect him to be the same tempo from last week against Alabama," Meyer said.

Demps was seen leaving practice in tennis shoes, but didn't have a noticeable limp in his step.

What could add more protection to and aid Florida's wounded backfield is the addition of junior fullback Steve Wilks, who will see his first game action against No. 12 LSU (5-0, 3-0 SEC) Saturday after being sidelined with a back injury.

"Wilks is playing and had a great week of practice," Meyer said. "That's good news for us that he came back and had a great week of practice."

Meyer compared Wilks to former Gator fullback Billy Latsko and said his blocking skills should help add more time in the passing and running game. Wilks should also free up Burton so he can play more off the line at receiver and tight end.

The 14th-ranked Gators (4-1, 2-1 SEC) will be without senior defensive tackle Brandon Antwine, who has been battling a shoulder injury this season, Meyer said. Also out are freshmen wide receivers Quinton Dunbar and Chris Dunkley who have been bothered by hamstring injuries.

Senior kicker Caleb Sturgis, who has a stress fracture in his back, is getting better, Meyer said, but won't kick against the Tigers. Senior punter Chas Henry will resume place-kicking duties.

Rainey situation

Despite having his aggravated stalking charges reduced last week, Meyer said Thursday that junior receiver Chris Rainey still hadn't rejoined the team.

"No," Meyer said. "No update."

Return focus

Before Florida gave up a 41-yard punt return to Alabama's Julio Jones last week, the Gators allowed an average of 4.4 yards per return since the beginning of the 2008 season.

Jones' return enraged Florida's coach, who is putting a heavy emphasis on the punt team this week and its ability to cup returner Patrick Peterson, who is averaging 23.6 yards per return and has two touchdowns this season.

"That's our No. 1 concern," Meyer said of containing Peterson. "That's absolutely the No. 1 concern of our football team right now."

Meyer said he's switching in two new players onto his punt team, but wouldn't say who Thursday.

LSU's big loss

Tigers coach Les Miles said Wednesday that redshirt freshman defensive end Sam Montgomery will miss the remainder of the season after suffering a serious knee injury in LSU's win over Tennessee.

"We wouldn't expect that he would play until next fall," Miles said.

No surgery date for Montgomery had been set.

He had 18 tackles, including tying for the team lead with six for a loss, and had two sacks before his injury.

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