Notebook: Demps upgraded to probable


Published: Wednesday, October 13, 2010 at 7:38 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, October 13, 2010 at 7:38 p.m.

Florida's sluggish offense could receive a much-needed boost this week with the possible return of starting tailback Jeff Demps, who has been out with a painful sprained foot.

"Good news on Demps," UF coach Urban Meyer said Wednesday. "He's feeling a lot better than he did last week.

"Obviously, we need his big-play shot. I put him as probable for Saturday (against Mississippi State). He's going to do some practice (Wednesday) and then, he's telling me, he's going to practice (Thursday)."

Demps missed the LSU game this past week and saw very limited playing time in the previous two games against Alabama and Kentucky.

Demps is college football's fastest player — and the Gators' most explosive playmaker. With him out of the lineup, the offense has struggled to sustain drives and been all but void of big plays.

Meyer said there is also positive injury news on quarterback John Brantley and offensive guard Jon Halapio.

Brantley was limited in practice a week ago with injured ribs and a sprained thumb. Halapio started against LSU last Saturday, but left the game with compound fracture of a finger.

"Johnny feels good, much better than a week ago, and he's practicing at full speed," Meyer said. "Last week, we had to rest him at times. But he's full speed.

"And Jon Halapio, good news on him. He had surgery on his finger, but they are saying probable for play. He'll not have contact (Wednesday), but (Thursday) he'll be able to have a little bit of contact."

UF responds to rare losing streak

For only the second time since Meyer's been at Florida, the Gators are riding a two-game losing streak. The other time it happened was in 2007, when the defensively challenged Gators lost to Auburn and LSU on back-to-back Saturdays.

The current streak is similar in that it has come against a team from Alabama and LSU.

Meyer said his players are responding favorably this week.

"I like the way they are handling it. They are not handling it well," Meyer said. "There are different ways of handling it. There's the blame game. I made a point (earlier this week) that we win championships together and we go through adversity together.

"That's a lot easier said than done, but I've not seen (the blame game). It's been a very positive week of practice. That doesn't mean there's been a whole lot of skipping around, but it does mean there's a lot of urgency to get better."

Another running QB on horizon

For the second Saturday in a row, the Gators will face an opposing quarterback who can hurt them with his legs. LSU's Jordan Jefferson did considerable damage a week ago. Mississippi State's Chris Relf has a similar skill set.

"Any time you get the QB involved in the running game like LSU did and this team will, that's the plus-one issue everyone deals with with these running quarterbacks," Meyer said. "We spend a lot of time on it, and you have to find a way to equate numbers.

"There's a variety of ways of doing it. Movement and gap exchanges are one way. Playing man coverage (in the secondary) and bring the extra man into the box is another way. Obviously, you can't live with just one. You have to mix it up."

Relf also is a dangerous threat throwing the ball.

"That's the essence of that offense," Meyer said. "It was no different than when Tim (Tebow) was playing here. That's how you get to score points in that offense, especially if you have the talented receivers, and they have very talented receivers."

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