Toney ‘looked good’ in practice, while Greenard and Zuniga on schedule for return, Mullen says

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Florida wide receiver Kadarius Toney catches a ball as he runs a drill Saturday at the Sanders Practice Fields on the UF campus. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

 Florida’s three injured stars — wide receiver Kadarius Toney and defensive ends Jon Greenard and Jabari Zuniga — are going to practice this week with the expectation that they will play in Saturday’s showdown with SEC East rival Georgia.

 “A good bye week,” UF coach Dan Mullen said Monday. “We had a chance to get guys healthy. We’ll see where we are at practice today. Kadarius practiced a little last week. The other guys we kind of rested a lot last week, but he was a guy who practiced. 

 “We’ll see how everybody does at practice. We expect the guys who have been banged up (to play Saturday). We’ve talked to the training staff and we expect to have the guys back, which will be a big help.”

 Toney, one of the Gators’ most explosive playmakers, has missed the last six games after injuring his shoulder in the UT Martin game Sept. 7. Zuniga has missed the last five games with a high ankle sprain, while the same injury has sidelined Greenard for the last two games.

 Their status for Saturday’s game will be evaluated later in the week.

 “That’s for the trainers (to decide whether they are cleared to play). We’ll see,” Mullen said. “I’ve got to see. We haven’t practiced yet, so we’ll see. We’re not going to rush them back. We’re going to get them ready for Saturday, but we expect both of those guys (Zuniga and Greenard) to be ready to go Saturday. Toney looked pretty good running around. No-contact, obviously. We just had him running around a little bit.”

 With Tony out, the Gators have rotated players at his slot position, playing Josh Hammond, Freddie Swain and redshirt freshman Jacob Copeland. All three have made plays from Toney’s spot, but he is considered one of the biggest offensive home-run threats as a receiver and a runner on jet sweeps.

 “It’s great to have KT back,” Hammond said. “He brings a whole different aspect. He’s going to be a different receiver than the rest of us because of the things he can do with the ball in his hands. 

 “It will be interesting to see what other tricks and packages that Coach Mullen will put in for him. We’ll be able to use him in a lot of different ways to throw defenses off. Not only this week, but in the future as well. It’s definitely a great addition to have him back. We’re excited to have him back, and he’s excited to get on the field.”

 Toney’s return would give quarterback Kyle Trask yet one more potential go-to guy in a passing game that features multiple playmakers among the wide receivers and tight ends.

 “KT is a playmaker,” Trask said. “Anytime you get him the ball in space, he is going to make a play. I think it’s going to help our offense a lot this week, just having him back as a weapon, going against a great defense like Georgia has.”

  The return of Greenard and Zuniga could have an even bigger impact on defense. In their absence, the Gators have had some problems stopping the run and the pass rush has lacked consistency.

 Greenard and Zuniga could play a potential game-changing role against a Georgia offense that leads the SEC in rushing with 237.1 yards a game and 6.1 yards a carry.

 When Greenard and Zuniga have been on the field at the same time this season, opponents have averaged only 1.6 yards a rush. When one or both is missing, foes are averaging 4.2 yards a carry.

 “Obviously, huge (getting them back),” Mullen said. “You look at teams, to have a successful season you’re going to look at injuries. I think we’ve done an unbelievable job as a coaching staff this year and our players of next guy stepping up. 

 “Very few teams I don’t think in the country could have dealt with the injuries we’ve had and be in the position that we’re still in. That’s a tribute to our guys, next guy stepping up, and our coaches getting guys ready to play. When you start taking star players away from teams in big games and see what happens — a lot of them don’t win.”

 Note: Mullen said UF is still “working with the NCAA” on defensive player Brenton Cox’s eligibility waiver. Cox transferred in from Georgia before the season.

 

 

13 COMMENTS

  1. I’d be pleasantly surprised if Zuniga and Greenard will be 100% by Saturday. I’d be ecstatic but not counting on it. Saw that Greenard said he is at 85% today. I sprained my wrist 4 weeks ago and it’s been at about 85% on average ever since. Whenever it gets close to 100%, I would take the brace off and use it more. I would re-injure it and it goes back down to 85% again. I’m not a doc but I hope those guys heal much faster than me. I’m a lot more optimistic for Toney since he is on the field this week albeit he is still in non-contact status. As for Cox, the NCAA probably planned to not make a decision until after the Cocktail Party, since he is a UGA transfer.

    • You don’t need to be a doc, Sly, to know your own body. Thing is, hope is not a rehab tool and there’s an awful lot of guess work in these estimates. I wouldn’t be surprised if Z and G re-injure too, but I trust Dan Mullen’s intuition more than I trust the team physician in making an absolutely perfect estimation of readiness. I’ve seen far too many soldiers returned to duty to early and wind up lost again when you really need them — not always of course — but enough times that I wished I had listened to my gut rather than the medical profile.

      • Whenever a coach goes to the podium for a news conference before a big game, I can’t help but to be cautious of the gamesmanship that may be in play. I think Edgar Allan Poe said it best, “Believe nothing you hear, and only one half that you see.” And of course the media is going to report everything said as the factual truth.

        And while I’m on a quoting spree, Greenard was quoted saying, “if I’m 85-90 that means I’m 100. No excuses. I’m playing.” To that I counter with a quote from our Good Lord, “For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!” But I confess that I am using the quote it in a tongue in cheek eisegetical manner.

  2. From the looks of things, once we get past Ga it will be smooth sailing until the SEC championship. Im no longer that concerned with Mo considering their recent performance. No one else on the schedule scares me. Uf should win out as long as they keep approaching each game mentally prepared to play their best ball.

  3. It is always better playing with all your players. The back-ups of course give much needed breathers but you have to have the chemistry and playmakers in for your best chance. Keys are to stay healthy and focused, and no turn overs on the offensive side of the ball. I like our chances the rest of the way including against Georgia. Go Gators!

  4. All things considered, about the only reason The odds would favor Georgia would be based on recruiting rankings and less on performance. I would take Trask over Fromm and the Gators’ outstanding group of receivers over UGA’s any day. The Gamecocks put pressure on Fromm, sacking him three times, and he threw three interceptions and completed just under 55 per cent of his pass attempts. I’m sure Coach Grantham took note. If Greenard and Zuniga play and can put outside pressure on Fromm, it’ll help with coverage and maybe the DBs will produce some critical turnovers. On the other side of the ball, I expect the Dawgs will have trouble trying to defend the Trask Force (to borrow the label someone cleverly tagged the Gator offense earlier in the season). If the Dawgies had problems with ND and USC, they ain’t seen nothin’ yet. UGA does have good stats in the running game, but not sure that’s ample reason for them to be favored. I’ll bet you’d find more nervous Dawg fans than Gators, odds or not.

  5. “…I would take Trask over Fromm…”

    And don’t forget, CDM over Kirby “Smart” who I believe at some point (or should I say another point, given his SECCG 4th down boner) will make Ray “Goof” Goff look like a genius.