Notebook: UF dealing with injuries


Florida offensive lineman Jon Halapio is interviewed before the start of day one of the 2013 SEC Media Days in suite 1404 of the Hyatt Regency Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover, Alabama Tuesday, July 16, 2013.

Doug Finger/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Friday, August 16, 2013 at 11:59 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, August 16, 2013 at 11:59 a.m.

With the opener now only two weeks away, the Florida Gators continue to deal with injury issues.

Starting offensive guard Jon Halapio and No. 1 tailback Matt Jones have missed all of camp and their status remains uncertain for the Aug. 31 opener against Toledo.

Halapio has been out with a partially torn pectoral muscle and is not expected to practice any next week.

“I think he has a doctor's appointment next Friday,” UF coach Will Muschamp said Friday. “I hope to get him cleared for game week. That's kind of the prognosis we've gotten so far, and I want that to happen.”

Jones continues to recover from a viral infection. He's attending practices and doing some cardio work, but still waiting to be cleared to return to full-time active duty.

“Matt Jones continues to improve,” Muschamp said. “I still don't have a timetable for a return, but he's doing well. He's exercising, getting back in it, but not ready to get out in the heat in full gear yet. But I'll certainly update when I know. I'm anticipating that news, hopefully sooner than later.”

Three other potential starters -- defensive tackle Damien Jacobs (patella), cornerback Jaylen Watkins (foot) and fullback Hunter Joyer (hamstring) -- remain out.

Muschamp said he thinks Jacobs will be cleared for contact work on game week, while Watkins is day-to-day and Joyer is likely out another five to seven days.

True freshman cornerback Vernon Hargreaves' availability for the opener also is in question after he sprained his shoulder in practice Wednesday.

“It should be about five to seven days before he'll be cleared for contact,” Muschamp said. “He'll be fine.”

True freshman offensive guard Octavius Jackson (shoulder), redshirt freshman defensive end Alex McCalister (shoulder) and redshirt offensive tackle Quinteze Williams (illness) are day-to-day, Muschamp said.

Here's to you, Mr. Robinson

Muschamp said the show true freshman wide receiver Demarcus Robinson put on in Thursday night's open practice is something the Gators have seen before in camp.

“He's been pretty consistent making some vertical plays for us down the field,” Muschamp said. “He's got really good ball skills. He's got natural instincts in running routes and doing those sort of things. So it's been a very positive thing for our offense.”

In Thursday night's practice, Robinson made a one-handed catch on a deep ball and caught several other passes, including one for a touchdown.

Burton No. 1 at TE

It looks like the Burton brothers -- wide receiver Trey and tight end Clay -- are both going to be starters this season.

Muschamp said Friday that Clay Burton has emerged as the No. 1 tight end. He has the size to line up on the line and block and also has the pass-catching skills to split out as a receiver, Muschamp said.

“He's packaged for more situations, so therefore he will get more snaps,” Muschamp said. “But there's no question he's done a nice job. I've also been pleased with Tevin Westbrook and some of the nice things he's done. Both of those guys right now would be 1 and 2.”

No starting PK yet

Muschamp said the competition for Caleb Sturgis' old job remains an ongoing battle between walk-on Brad Phillips and redshirt freshman Austin Hardin.

“We haven't made a decision (about a kicker),” Muschamp said. “Brad had a little bit of groin there early in camp so we obviously want to give everybody a fair shake at that. Brad's kicked in live situations before in a game. He has that experience.

“I've been pleased with Austin's progress through camp. And Brad, when healthy, has kicked the ball well. We haven't made a decision."

Patton emerging at WR

Last season, Solomon Patton was pretty much a one-dimensional player on offense, used almost exclusively for speed sweeps and end-arounds. He's expanded his role in camp, and has become an option in the passing game, Muschamp said.

“Solomon has had a good camp. He really has,” Muschamp said. “He's refined himself as a route-runner. He has taken a lot of pride in that through the summer. Obviously, he had a big post last night (in the open practice) from Jeff (Driskel), so that was impressive against Marcus Roberson, who is a pretty good player.

“He's been doing that through camp. He's been consistently doing that. He caught a nice out route in seven-on-seven to start the drill last night, really sharp coming out of the cut. We had good coverage and he made a really nice play on the ball. We need him to have a very productive year for us at the receiver position.”

Kudos for Poole, Cox, Ivie

Muschamp offered praise for three of the younger players on the team -- true sophomore cornerback Brian Poole, redshirt freshman defensive end Brian Cox Jr. and true freshman defensive end Joey Ivie.

“Brian Poole, right now if we were to start the season, would be the starter at the nickelback position,” Muschamp said. “He's done a nice job playing corner as well, I think he's continued to improve through camp. Every day he's gotten a little better improving technique and fundamentals.

“Brian Cox is someone battling with Jon Bullard at the end position. I'm very pleased with his progress, a guy that plays well at the point of attack. He's a great effort player, a guy that gives you tremendous effort on the field and that's something that you've got to count on, those guys to play hard and he's certainly one of those guys.”

Ivie, an early enrollee, played defensive tackle in the spring but has been moved outside to end.

“He's done a nice job. His improvement from spring to right now is night and day,” Muschamp said. “We moved him inside purposely in the spring. He needed to learn how to play blocks, strike blocks in a situation where he's got to play fast and physical.

“We moved him to end which is still inside but it slows the game down a little bit. Very pleased with his ability to strike and play blocks. Very pleased with where he is.”

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