Notebook: Injuries take toll as UF hits stretch run
Published: Tuesday, November 1, 2011 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, November 2, 2011 at 12:08 a.m.
As the Gators slogged through a winless month of October and saw their offensive production dwindle, there was one constant — injuries.
They played a major role in last Saturday's loss to Georgia.
“You get to your eighth game of the year, no one's completely healthy,” offensive coordinator Charlie Weis said after Tuesday's practice. “I don't think there's one player on the field at this time of the year that wouldn't be a training room casualty. Some people have sore ankles. Some people have sore knees. Some people have sore shoulders. You know, I have sore eyes because I've been watching the stuff I've been putting out there.”
Running back Chris Rainey joined the parade to the trainers' table when he suffered a right ankle injury in the first quarter against Georgia.
The senior is UF's best weapon with 1,009 all-purpose yards on the season, by far the most on the team.
Last Saturday, he struggled with his injury, riding a stationary bike and running on the Gator sideline several times in an attempt to get back into the game and contribute. He finished with 26 yards rushing on five attempts and two catches for 30 yards.
After practice on Tuesday, Weis said Rainey is probable for Saturday's home game against Vanderbilt.
“He's one of those guys who's banged up,” Weis said. “Would he be full speed today? No, he wouldn't be full speed today.
“The only problem with guys like Rainey and (Jeff) Demps is when they get banged up, because their whole game is their speed, if by Saturday they can't play up to that speed, then you're better off really limiting their role because that's their game. Their game is utilizing their speed.”
Two other key injuries affecting UF's offense are on the offensive line, as offensive tackle Chaz Green missed the last game with an ankle injury suffered in practice the previous week. Green's injury forced Xavier Nixon into a starting role, and he struggled with pass protection and a false start penalty.
Weis described Nixon as being banged-up and in pain, but well enough to play through it. He and Green are expected to play this week.
Teammate Jon Halapio said Nixon, who was emotional on the sideline after the game, took the loss hard.
“He was very discouraged after the game, so I'm just trying to encourage him,” Halapio said. “He's doing real good right now.”
Weis noted that Nixon was among the first players to participate in voluntary weightlifting on Sunday.
Brantley under center
Weis said starting quarterback John Brantley's sprained ankle continues to improve, and the senior is politicking to take more snaps under center.
“Is he capable of going ahead and doing it? Yes he is,” Weis said. “But we'll just have to wait and see how the week goes. His mobility is better this week than it was last week.”
Weis back to sideline
Weis said he expects to return to the sideline for Saturday's game against Vanderbilt, explaining that he went up to the booth for the Georgia game in part because of the Gators' offensive game plan.
“Well I intended in the game, you saw that our mentality was a totally different attack than we've been doing, and that's kinda what we had geared up for this past week,” he said. “That's really not the mode that I intend to be in this week, so I'll probably be back down on the field.”
Vanderbilt hasn't won a road game this season, but the Commodores will come to Gainesville with confidence.
Why? Head coach James Franklin said Monday he hopes to take advantage of two critical aspects of the game.
“The turnover battle is going to be very, very important,” he said. “We're ranked fifth in the SEC, they're ranked 12th and we'd like to keep it that way and that should be an advantage for us.
“The same thing with penalties, we're ranked 79th in the country, which is an area we've got to improve, and Florida's ranked 120th so I'm hoping that's going to be an advantage for us on Saturday as well.”
False starts have been a particular sore spot for the Gators during their four-game losing streak. Florida had four false start penalties against Georgia, four against Auburn, three against LSU and one against Alabama. … Tickets remain on sale for Saturday's homecoming game vs. Vanderbilt as well as the Gators' following home game against Furman on Nov. 19.
Contact Jeff Barlis at (352) 374-5066 or firstname.lastname@example.org and follow at http://Twitter.com/JeffBarlis
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