It appears Florida’s defensive line could have only five healthy scholarship tackles available for Saturday’s opener against Miami.
Junior Elijah Conliffe, a backup, indicated on Instagram on Wednesday that he is going to miss the season with an unspecified injury. UF coach Dan Mullen confirmed the injury Thursday.
If Conliffe is out, the Gators will be down to five available tackles for Saturday’s game — Tyree Campbell, Adam Shuler, Luke Ancrum,Tedarrell Slaton and Marlon Dunlap. True freshman Jaelin Humphries is still recovering from an unspecified leg injury.
The Gators could get help inside from two ends who have also been working at tackle in certain situations — Jabari Zuniga and Zachary Carter.
Young guy help
At least two of the young offensive linemen appear ready to dive into the playing rotation if needed — redshirt freshman tackle Richard Gouraige and true freshman guard Evan White.
“(Gouraige) works hard and he takes everything super serious,” junior guard Brett Heggie said. “He is all business when he is inside the building. That’s the biggest thing with him, and keep getting better every day. I was just talking to him after practice about it. He is just one of those guys that is going to be a big name for us soon or in the future because of how hard he works.”
Another veteran lineman, senior center Nick Buchanan, singled out White.
“Ethan White is probably one of the smartest guys that we have,” Buchanan said. “You tell him one thing once and he’s got it, which is a testament to his mindset, not only on the field but off the field, with his body. Every day he comes out here with a mindset and is ready to work. It’s all about reps. He’s learning, he’s working, he’s getting better every single day, so shout out to him.”
Tight end Lucas Krull and the Gators have their own version of Hurricane preparation.
“Oh yeah, we’re fired up,” he said. “I keep telling everybody I see, ‘You see me now, it’s the calm, but the storm’s coming.’ We’re ready.”
Lots of focus
Mullen has a game plan for how he wants this week to play out on the practice field.
“I want to make sure that we are completely prepared for Saturday night,” he said. “And that we are prepared to execute at an extremely high level in all three phases of the game, and that we play with relentless effort, we play with maximum effort come Saturday night.
“Those are the things. To do that, you have to prepare, you have to know exactly what you’re doing, put in the extra time and be extremely confident with every aspect of the game plan when you go take that field on Saturday.”
Defensive tackle Kyree Campbell said the players know what’s expected of them this week.
“Our big emphasis is we practice Monday hard, we practice Tuesday hard, practice Wednesday hard, practice Thursday hard, we win the game,” Campbell said. “You practice the way you’re going to play. So, if we come out here and practice the right way, we plan to win the game. If we come out here and BS, we’re going to lose the game.”
The 2019 edition of Gator Talk continues Thursday at Miller’s Ale House in Celebration Pointe in Gainesville with football coach Dan Mullen and volleyball coach Mary Wise.
Mullen will recap fall camp and discuss the Gators season opener from 7-7:30 p.m., while Wise will discuss her volleyball team ahead of UF’s Fan Day on Saturday. The hour-long show can be heard on 103.7-FM.