It’s looking more and more like Florida will be without Malik Zaire this week, leaving the Gators with just one scholarship quarterback for Saturday’s game against Florida State, redshirt freshman starter Feleipe Franks.
Zaire did not practice again Tuesday and remains day-to-day. He is recovering from a knee injury he sustained during the South Carolina game two weeks ago. He missed last week’s game against UAB.
If Zaire doesn’t practice by Thursday, he will not be available Saturday.
True freshman slot receiver Kadarius Toney, the No. 2 quarterback if Zaire is out, also did not practice Tuesday and is day-to-day with an injured lower leg.
If Toney and Zaire can’t go Saturday, the No. 2 quarterback would be junior wide receiver Dre Massey, a former high school quarterback.
On the other side of the ball, safety Jeawon Taylor is expected to miss Saturday’s game with an injured shoulder. True freshman tackle Elijah Conliffe returned to practice Tuesday, while defensive end Jachai Polite was limited. Polite is day-to-day.
Dropping the ball
In their attempt to redeem themselves for an overall poor performance in last Saturday’s game, the wide receivers apparently aren’t off to a good start.
“That wasn’t sharp as I expected to be, the receivers didn’t focus like we wanted them to,” interim head coach Randy Shannon said. “We’ve got to do a great job of getting those guys tuned in because coming off last week, they didn’t execute the way we wanted to. We’ve got to get better tomorrow and execute what we’re trying to get done.”
The receivers dropped five passes in the win over UAB.
That emoji madness
The Florida players sent Gator Nation into a tizzy Sunday night when dozens of them tweeted the same contemplative emoji at the same time. Even some recruits and former players tweeted it.
Many thought the sudden flurry of activity meant the players had learned who their new coach was. That was not the case.
“We were all at dinner, just sitting down,” sophomore linebacker David Reese said. “I guess someone sent a tweet talking about another coach, so we were like, ‘Man, we’re tired of this, so let’s just have a little fun with it.’ But that was about it. So I hope Gator country’s not too mad at us.”
Reese said it was orchestrated by wide receivers Josh Hammond and Dre Massey.
“It was nothing to it,” Hammond said. “We were just finding out just how all you guys find out. So we don’t know what’s going on. The rumors are out there but nobody really knows, so we just all tweeted out the emoji. We thought it would be pretty funny for us to just come together and kind of bother Twitter a little bit.”
The ploy worked.
Shannon is not only holding this UF football team together, he’s apparently doing the same with the recruits who are committed to the Gators. There’s a good chance most will stick.
Shannon is selling the recruits on the idea they’re signing with the school instead of the head coach.
“A lot of times in this recruiting phase, everybody is worrying about the coaches,” he said. “Florida sells itself. I ask the football players why did you come to Florida? And they come to Florida because of the brand, because of the stadium, the atmosphere, the education, the family atmosphere. That’s what you talk about.
“They come to Florida because of the brand. You sell the brand. You don’t sell me. You don’t sell the next guy. You sell the brand. What Florida is all about. I think the guys we have right now that are committed understand that big picture.”
Prepping for the draft
After the season, UF will follow its usual procedure concerning draft-eligible underclassmen, Shannon said.
“What this university has always done is we do a good job of when the season is over with, we let the juniors put their name in for early draftees, just to see where they are ranked at,” he said. “When they get the information back, we present them the information, and we show them those things the NFL had their opinions.
“We do a great job. This university does a great job understanding those are situations that happen. We want to be proactive. We’ll be always ahead of the game here. That’s one thing I do like about this university.”
DuBose Mr. Two Bits
Former standout fullback Jimmy DuBose, the SEC player of the year in 1975, will serve as the honorary Mr. Two Bits for Saturday’s game against FSU.
DuBose is an appropriate pick. He rushed for 204 yards in the Gators’ 34-8 win over the Seminoles in 1975. During that season, DuBose rushed for a school-record 1,307 yards in helping lead UF to a 9-3 record.