Florida freshmen may get opportunity vs. Idaho

Florida quarterback Emory Jones, left, and wide receiver Jacob Copeland. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

The Florida freshmen who played briefly in a game or two at the start of the season, but not since, may have a chance to reintroduce themselves to Gator fans over the final three games of the season.

With the new redshirt rule that allows a player to play in any four games in a season and still redshirt, there are 10 true freshmen who can play in the last two or three games without losing a year of eligibility.

So, the plan is to get some of those guys playing time over the last three games if they’re ready for it.
Their opportunity is enhanced by the fact the Gators have concluded SEC play and there are no longer restrictions on how many players can dress for, and play in, a game.

For SEC home games, teams can dress 95 and only play 80. Teams can only dress 70 for league road games.

“This type of game, right now, in our next three games, this is an opportunity for guys to go play, because you’re not limited on who can dress,” UF coach Dan Mullen said. “In SEC games, you’re very limited on the number of guys that can play in a game within all the rules. The next three games, we don’t have those limitations on us, so there’s going to be more opportunities for those guys situationally to get into a game, whether it’s special teams or whatever the situation is.”

Six true freshmen have already played in more than four games and cannot redshirt. They are: safety Amari Burney (nine games), cornerback Trey Dean (10 games, six starts), safety John Huggins (five games), kicker Evan McPherson (10 games), running back Dameon Pierce (10 games) and tight end Kyle Pitts (eight games).

The following true freshmen can play in two or three of the remaining games and still redshirt:

Chris Bleich, OL — He played in the Charleston Southern and Colorado State games, but hasn’t seen the field since. UF has been trying to build depth along the offensive line this fall, and Bleich is a guy who has shown he can compete. He may have a chance to do it in games the rest of the way.

Andrew Chatfield, DE/OLB — He hasn’t seen the field since playing in the opener. He’s one of the highest-rated members of the freshman class and is expected to compete for significant playing time in the spring. Playing some in these last three games might be a good starting point.

Iverson Clement, RB/DB — He hasn’t played since the opener. He’s an excellent athlete who could see playing time on special teams over the next three games.

Jacob Copeland, WR — This four-star prospect is back to full speed after injuring his knee early in preseason camp. He’s behind in terms of knowing the offense, but could get his first playing time at some point in the final three games.

Richard Gouraige, OL — Offensive line coach John Hevesy said Gouraige is a tackle who has really started coming on in recent weeks. Seeing playing time the rest of the season could set him up to compete for a possible starting role in the spring.

Emory Jones, QB — Jones played in the opener and in the Georgia game, so he’s going to play in two of the last three games. The question is, which two will it be? The feeling is he could see extensive playing time against Idaho on Saturday and then again in the bowl game. But that decision has not been made yet.

Dante Lang, TE — He played in the opener, but with all the depth at tight end, there’s been no real opportunity for him to possibly get in the playing rotation.

Malik Langham, DE/OLB — One of the highest-rated prospects in the class, Langham hasn’t played since the opener, mainly because of all the experienced and proven players in front of him. There’s a good chance he’ll get some reps in the final three games, then compete for a possible starting role in the spring.

Griffin McDowell, C — Lack of depth is an issue at center, and he could figure prominently in the near future. He hasn’t seen the field since the opener, but could see playing time again, his best chance probably being Saturday.

David Reese, LB — Baby Reese played in the opener, but not since. With the lack of depth at linebacker, there’s a chance he could get in the playing rotation and possibly see time on special teams. in the final three games.



  1. Robbie, you may have unwittingly discovered the reason why it’s so hard to win on the road in the SEC. Home teams can dress 95 and can play 80 while road teams can only dress 70? Sounds like the SEC is stacking the deck against traveling teams.

    • I honestly believe it’s the SEC League Office trying to mandate lower ”traveling costs” for the SEC ”away teams.” While placing Missouri in the EAST!?!?! And that is what’s CRIMINAL, and speaking of F.S.U., at least Florida can bring more than 70 to Tally in late Nov. (And for the record: Auburn should switch with Mizzou, I.M.O.). Originally, from what I’ve heard and read, ‘Bama legend, Paul ”Bear” Bryant would literally dress like 125 guys (before the rule changes), and try to intimidate the other teams. But bigger players kinda’ got my attention as a youth playing football, not the # of players. But what do I know. Go Gators!

    • Traveling costs for schools is the reason for the 70 limit for road SEC schools. Home teams can dress the 85, but only 70 receive pre-game meals and such. And it is only logical as well, as any given team traveling would have to play all three-deep players plus kickers to reach the 70 members on the field in a road game. I doubt that ever happens, even in a blow out game. So, I dare to say that there is no advantage for the home team to have 85 players dressed when the visiting team has only 70 players dressed. And if you have not noticed at The Swamp each game, about 10 to 15 of those “dressed” players do not even have shoulder pads on and just pants and shirts for game day wear. All 70 of the opposing team’s players are fully dressed in uniforms. So, both teams are around 70 players fully dressed. But, again, only about 40 to 50 or so of those players see any game action for both teams.

  2. Robbie…another good article with loads of background material. I wish you guys would pump out more stories like this, reporting from behind the scenes so we get a bigger inside picture. Some readers have their own grapevines to what’s happening, but some of us depend more on you guys to get us the good, focused, factual stuff. I’d rather digest facts than filler.

  3. I don’t really think the 4th string guys make a difference, but I wonder what the logic is behind the rule? At least you would think you would be able to play an equal amount of players in the game, even if they let the home team dress out a few extra.

  4. Being as Bama pretty much gets the sec to do what it wants, Auburn isn’t ever coming to the east. Bama wants to play Tennessee and Auburn every season. Bama also is against 9 conference games. So until the earth shifts on its axis, Bama will get what they want.

      • You are correct about Saban. His idea is 9 or 10 sec games and only other power 5 schools for ooc games. While most fans like the sound of that idea, it’s too drastic to think they would go that far. There are a lot of great ideas, but in the end only money will force changes.

        • Saban may say that but his team’s schedule has never reflected that. For a school that is constantly stocked with 4-star and 5-star talent out of high school, it only helps Saban to play more conference games. He has the depth and the talent on the bench to beat most, if not all, teams in the country. Look at the Tua/Jalen talk before the season. Saban didn’t care about what Jalen did for the past two seasons and that he was respected by his teammates.
          I think most fans would agree that conference games are always played a little harder because of the implications those games carry. With a 9 or 10 game conference schedule, injuries would pile up and teams that may have had a great 1st Team are now losing because they don’t have the depth to support playing LSU this week and then Alabama the next and then Georgia after that.
          Because I love the SEC and I would like to see more conference games, but more than 9 would be ridiculous. Everyone cheered for playoffs, including me, but what is really different between BCS era and CFP era? Yes, the 4 teams battling for the championship is better but just like the BCS era, the same teams always get in. Saban wants 9 or 10 conference games, but look at their non-conference games last year and this year. Besides the first game against FSU and Louisville the last years, who have they played during their out of conference games. I think Bame plays The Citadel this week. That’s gonna be a real nail-biter!! lol.

          Point being, more conference games only empowers the strong. If you already have depth, you’re solid. If you are trying to build depth, you have an uphill battle to climb once you hit midway through the season.

  5. I don’t think Emory Jones is ready yet. The two games he played in he messed up on option plays and fumbled. I would rather see Franks get more reps to continue to develop. He needs all the game reps he can get. Burney played alot during the beginning of the year and was a hitter but I have not seen him lately. Has he been hurt or just not needed?

    • He may not be, but thing is — we don’t really know one way or the other. It’s such a small public sample size with Jones; only the coaching staff really knows, and they’re tight lipped from what I can tell. I sure get your rational with Franks tho, TruBlu.

  6. Grantham’s praise of C.J. Henderson sticks out in particular. Imagine our corners next fall with C.J., Marco Wilson and Trey Dean, unless Trey succeeds Chauncey in the nickel.

    The SEC limit of 70 players for a visiting conference team against a home roster of 80 makes no sense.
    Hopefully that time will be changed before long.

    Long ago teams only played 10 games in a season, though almost all against competitive peers rather than patsies. When schedules went to 11 games, then 12 the soft opponents started showing up for paydays and rewards to players who otherwise would never get to compete in tge big stadiums or on televised games. Programs should post nine conference games a year, up to two against non-conference peers and one lesser match-up. Teams would have at least six home games a season. Mizzou could be in the West, Auburn in the East. So why not?

  7. While the rational for travel costs makes some sense, it would seem to put the travel team at a disadvantage. I can see intimidating an opponent dressing out more players. Having ten extra guys steaks the deck in depth. Be interesting if Robbie would stuff up the reason for the rule.

  8. I wouldn’t want to compromise the outcome of a game by trying to buy PT for the redshirts. Idaho won’t be the problem, and I would be more surprised if we didn’t see a bunch of redshirts ripping up the Vandals in the 2nd half. As foh da Noles in Tally? Starters all day long, and if we can, and I know we can, we can run over the Criminhoes like Clemson and ND.