One of the big benefits of a bye week is the time off it gives some injured players a chance to heal and return. But that’s not really working out for the Florida Gators during their current open date.
The injury list is longer than ever.
“It is what it is,” UF coach Jim McElwain said Wednesday. “I’m sure there’s not a coach in America who hasn’t been through something like this. And yet, at the same time, the guys that are here, they played really hard.
“They’ve been playing hard. That’s all good and dandy, but at the end of the day, you’ve got to win. We’ve got to get better with those guys this week and put a plan together.”
The Gators will be moving forward without senior defensive end and team leader Jordan Sherit, who underwent hip surgery earlier this week and is out for the remainder of the season. He was injured in the second half of the loss to Texas A&M this past Saturday.
“His surgery went as well as could be expected,” McElwain said. “Absolutely, (he’s out for the season). That’s a bad deal, now.”
Multiple other injured players will not be able to practice this week and their status is uncertain for the Oct. 28 Georgia game in Jacksonville.
In that category are wide receiver Tyrie Cleveland (high ankle sprain), safety Nick Washington (shoulder), safety Quincy Lenton (knee), defensive end Jabari Zuniga (ankle), offensive tackle Martez Ivey (knee), safety Chauncey Gardner Jr. (ankle) and slot receiver Kadarius Toney (shoulder).
Washington, Zuniga and Toney missed last Saturday’s game. Cleveland played a couple of plays early, but then left and did not return. Cleveland also missed the LSU game.
The status of true freshman wide receiver James Robinson also remains uncertain. He has undergone several tests for a possible heart condition and is still awaiting results on some.
The school announced Wednesday that his genetic testing results will not be available until late November at the earliest, so there is no chance he will be cleared to return during the regular season.
The injuries, coupled with the nine players under suspension, have left the Gators with a depleted roster. More than 20 percent of the roster was missing for the loss to Texas A&M. It could look similar for the Georgia game in less than two weeks, depending on who does and doesn’t return next week.
For the players who are healthy, they’re spending the bye week trying to improve in certain areas. On the offense, the focus is on being more consistent, especially at quarterback, where Feleipe Franks has been struggling.
“I think he’s gotten better at some things,” McElwain said. “As things come up, then he’s able to see and learn. I think he’s dealing with some of the exterior things that come along with the position. It’s a growing thing for him.
“This is a good week for him to keep working on what we’re doing, and really, the guys around him understanding what they need to do to be successful at that position as well.”
Franks said he’s using the bye week to reflect and correct.
“If you’re a quarterback, for a bye week you really get time to just kind of review what’s going on this past half of the season,” he said. “Really, just evaluate yourself, and let the coaches evaluate you and see what you can improve on in the second half of the season. That’s all I’ve been doing, getting better. That’s all you can do.”
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out Andreu’s blog at Gatorsports.com.
Who: Florida (3-3, 3-2 SEC) vs. No. 3 Georgia (7-0, 4-0)
When: 3:30 p.m. Oct. 28
Where: EverBank Field, Jacksonville
Radio: 103.7-FM, AM-850