Florida’s depleted secondary has received some rare positive news. Starting cornerback CJ Henderson is on schedule to return for Saturday’s game against Missouri after missing most of the Georgia game with an injured back.
“Thankfully, no structural damage, just a bruise,” UF coach Dan Mullen said Monday. “So we’re expecting him to be ready to go for Saturday.”
Henderson was injured on Florida’s first defensive series against the Bulldogs and did not return. With Henderson out — along with starting cornerback Marco Wilson, who is sidelined for the season after injuring his knee in the Sept. 8 Kentucky game — Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm picked apart the young secondary, throwing for 240 yards and three touchdowns.
The loss of Henderson clearly had an impact on the game.
“It didn’t help,” Mullen said. “Right there you lose probably your best defensive player. When you’ve already lost your first or second-best defensive player.
“You’re looking at a spot that is really not deep, but has some of your best players, and then you don’t have both of them play in a game. And (Georgia) did a good job of taking advantage of that. That’s how they were able to move the ball.”
Henderson was replaced by sophomore C.J. McWilliams, who was beaten on two of the touchdown passes.
Sophomore Brian Edwards, who missed the Vanderbilt game, did not see any playing time at corner against Georgia, but did play on special teams.
The secondary also could receive a boost this week from the expected return of starting safety Brad Stewart, who was held out of Saturday’s game for unspecified reasons.
More Emory to come
Florida fans — and opposing defenses — are going to see more of true freshman quarterback Emory Jones at some point over the next four weeks, Mullen said.
Mullen came up with a package of plays for Jones to run in the Georgia game. He rushed for 12 yards, drew a pass interference call on an accurate deep pass and recovered his own fumble.
Under the new redshirt rule, Jones can play in two more games this season and still redshirt this year, which is still the plan, Mullen said after the UGA game.
Mullen said Jones has shown an ability to make certain plays in practice and has a much better grasp of the offense than he did earlier in the season.
“We’ve seen it with flashes with him,” Mullen said. “He’s seen as the season has gone on, ‘I understand the different checks and the different looks and how you apply plays from one week to the next.’ And he’s grown.
“We have a couple of little package plays last week that we put in for him. We’ll do that for at least two more games this year. I think he’s right on schedule. I think he’s in great shape.”
Upon further review
After watching the tape of the 36-17 loss to Georgia, Mullen said quarterback Feleipe Franks, and the Gators overall, did some positive things.
“I thought he did some really good things,” Mullen said. “There are some throws he missed he wished he had back. I don’t think he played bad. I don’t think he lit it up and played at a big-time performance. I don’t know that he took a huge step backwards in his growth and his development. I just think he missed some throws.
“Obviously, the fumble was a bad play. But there are also a lot of things he did pretty well during the course of the game. His touchdown pass was a big-time throw. We asked him to be a willing runner. On the goal-line he was a willing runner. A couple of short-yardage situations he ran the ball and got some first downs for us.
“Not just him, the entire team. When you go back and watch the film, you can pull off sections and say, ‘Boy, we’re a great looking football team right here. They had eight plays inside the 1-yard line and couldn’t score.’ That’s pretty impressive.”