Injured Rainey ‘probable' for Vandy


Florida running back Chris Rainey fights for yards during the second half of the Florida Gators' 24-20 loss against Georgia on Saturday at EverBank Field in Jacksonville.

Rob C. Witzel/Staff photographer
Published: Wednesday, November 2, 2011 at 12:14 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, November 2, 2011 at 12:14 p.m.

Florida's struggling offense may be without its most productive player for Saturday's game against Vanderbilt.

Senior tailback Chris Rainey sprained his ankle in the first half of last week's Georgia game and has not practiced yet this week. UF coach Will Muschamp said Rainey is probable to questionable for Saturday's game.




“He’s been hobbled a little bit this week,” Muschamp said during the SEC coaches’ teleconference Wednesday. “We hope to get him out (Wednesday) and run him a little bit and see how he feels.

“I’d say he’s probable to questionable at this time. He’s not full speed, but we’ve got Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Hopefully we’ll get him back in the fold.”

Rainey has been in a protective boot since Saturday night.

Feeling Brantley’s pain

Muschamp said he was touched when he saw a despondent John Brantley in the locker room after Saturday’s loss to the Bulldogs.

“It really kind of hit me Saturday night in the locker room (everything that Brantley has gone through),” Muschamp said. “He was really hurting mentally. You walk over to his locker and you see a guy whose father played at Florida, an uncle who played at Florida and he’s been a Gator his whole life.

“He’s fought through adversity and handled it like a true, class person does. To see him hurt like that (over a loss) was very disappointing for me. I’m very proud of John and how he’s handled everything and pushed through. He’s been our leader.

“I saw his parents when I was getting on the bus (after the game) and I told them how proud I was of John, and they ought to be proud parents of the young man they’ve raised.”

Muschamp on Tide-Tigers

Like most of the other league coaches, Muschamp was asked on the teleconference for his take on the Alabama-LSU game on Saturday night in Tuscaloosa.

“They’re very similar teams. Big, physical teams,” Muschamp said. “They’re both very physical on both lines of scrimmage. They run the ball like you need to in this league. That’s why they are where they are and the rest of us this year are trying to catch up.

“They play well as entire teams from the standpoint of ball possession offensively. Defensively, they take advantage of opportunities when they have them. They have a very similar make-up.”

Those third-down woes

After spending a lot of time in practice last week working on third-down situations, the Gators went a miserable 2-for-13 on third downs in the loss to Georgia.

“I went back to see why, when we spent so much time practicing on situational football, why we were 2-of-13?,” offensive coordinator Charlie Weis said. “I thought there were several long-yardage situations and unfortunately I was right.

“I mean, it was third-and-10, third-and-13, third-and-13, third-and-18, third-and-22, third-and-20, third-and-13. That’s not the way to play the game.

“You need to play the game in third-and-six, third-and-five, third-and-four. Because that’s the way you end up scoring points, by getting first downs and moving the football.”

The fourth-down call

Some questioned Muschamp’s decision to go for a fourth-and-19 from the Georgia 31-yard line Saturday, but Weis said it was an easy decision to make because the Gators were out of field goal range with backup kicker Brad Phillips and a punt likely would not have changed field position that much.

Weis said the UF coaches knew the play had a chance to go for a touchdown (which it did on a pass from John Brantley to tight end Jordan Reed) because the Bulldogs have a tendency to blitz in long-yardage situations.

“In this case, what (the Bulldogs) did is they brought a weak-side safety blitz and John stepped up and the weak safety could never get there from the outside,” Weis said. “Jordan was running wide open down the field.

“We were trying to score. We were throwing to the end zone. That was, send everyone vertical.”

Wildcat on the shelf?

The Gators have had almost zero success with Trey Burton lining up as the Wildcat quarterback in recent games, but Weis said that phase of the offense will remain in the playbook.

“We have it in there,” Weis said. “We have packages every week. When he goes in there it’s usually a very heavy run-oriented field, and when you put him in there you see what their adjustment is going to be to what you’re doing.

“You know pretty quickly how much of a lifespan you’re going to end up having on what you end up doing.”

QB focus on the present

Some UF fans may think the season is over, but the Gator players and coaches don’t.

When Weis was asked if he’d like to advance the development of his two freshman quarterbacks (Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel) by giving them playing time the rest of the way, he said, “I think the most important thing is to beat Vanderbilt. You do anything and everything just to beat Vanderbilt.”

That means going the distance with Brantley.

“It’s not like, ‘What am I going to do with Jacoby or what am I going to do with Jeff?,’ ” Weis said. “Bigger than development is winning the next game, at home, Homecoming and all that other stuff. That’s the most important thing.”

Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or andreur@gvillesun.com. Also check out Andreu's blog at Gatorsports.com.

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