Dooley at The Half: Injuries to two of Florida’s best players

Florida wide receiver Van Jefferson is tackled after making a catch during the first half Saturday against UT Martin at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

Sun sports columnist Pat Dooley takes a look at the first half of the Florida vs. Tennessee-Martin game:

* The biggest story of the first half was that both players who wear No. 1 for Florida were hurt and had to be helped off the field. Receiver Kadarius Toney left after getting slammed to the ground and was holding his left arm to his side. Cornerback CJ Henderson was injured in the second quarter and had a difficult time putting weight on his left leg as he left the field. 

* For a team that has issues on the roster, to lose two of the biggest stars is not a great way to go into the SEC season. Florida also was missing defensive backs Amari Burney and Jaewon Taylor with injuries coming into the game. As a result, we saw a lot of freshmen DBs in the first half. 

* Someone who didn’t watch the game might have thought he really showed the critics. And he definitely was not bad. Franks was 15-for-16 for 183 yards in the half with two touchdowns and the only incompletion was a Hail Mary on the last play. There were a lot of short passes, six of the completions gaining five yards or less. One of the TD passes, a 35-yarder to Tyrie Cleveland, could have been thrown by one of George Edmondson’s grandsons. Cleveland was that wide open. But the 69-yarder was a thing of beauty to Van Jefferson as Franks looked off the safeties.

* Florida’s running game was again pedestrian at best, although Dameon Pierce provided a little spark. This offensive line in the early going appears to be better at pass blocking than run blocking. Certainly, Florida is going to have to get better running the ball to have the same kind of balance the Gators had last year.