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Pitts questionable for Saturday's game

Robbie Andreu
Gator Sports
Florida tight end Kyle Pitts tries to get past Georgia defensive back Lewis Cine after a reception Saturday in Jacksonville. UF coach Dan Mullen said Monday that Pitts is questionable for this week's game with a concussion.

Florida might be without one of the nation’s premier offensive players when the Gators face Arkansas in The Swamp on Saturday night.

 Junior tight end Kyle Pitts, UF’s most dynamic playmaker in the passing game, is under concussion protocol this week and is questionable for Saturday’s game, coach Dan Mullen said Monday.

 “Kyle will be questionable this week, concussion,” Mullen said.

 Pitts was injured midway through the second quarter Saturday when Georgia safety Lewis Cine made helmet-to-helmet contact with him on a pass deep down the middle. Cine was ejected from the game for targeting, while the hard blow to the head knocked Pitts out of the game.

 With his size, speed and hands, Pitts has been a match-up problem for opposing secondaries throughout the season, including in his limited time on the field against the Bulldogs. He caught a 25-yard TD pass on a 50-50 ball to tie the game at 21-21 early in the second quarter.

 Pitts leads the Gators in touchdown receptions with eight and is UF’s second leading receiver with 24 catches for 414 yards. He’s averaging 17.2 yards a reception.

 After he went out of the game, the tight end duties were shared by two players who were highly recruited four-star prospects coming out of high school — junior Kemore Gamble and true sophomore Keon Zipperer.

 Both made big plays.

 Two plays after Pitts departed, Gamble caught a 24-yard touchdown pass, while Zipperer had a 36-yard catch-and-run later in the game. Gamble finished with three receptions for 51 yards.

  “If you look last week, we’ve always had guys who have that next-man-up mentality,” Mullen said. “Kyle is a great player. (Gamble and Zipperer) know it. We feature him. He goes out and Kemore has a great game. Zip has a catch and a long run afterward and he did a great job blocking. They executed really well out there on the field.

 “To me, those guys have just got to come up and we’re going to run our offense. It’s their opportunity to go make plays, their opportunity to go show what they can do out there on the field. Every year you have that next-man-up mentality. This year, it’s probably even bigger because you’re adding in all the different things happening and what a crazy year it’s been. There’s even more chance for the next-man-up mentality. Or opportunity.”

 If Pitts can’t go Saturday, his playmaking ability will be missed. But it won’t change the Gators’ approach on offense, quarterback Kyle Trask said.

 “Honestly, we’ve got endless options (in the passing game),” he said. “ I’m not sure the exact number, but I know there are a lot of people that had receptions on Saturday, and you saw when Pitts went down, a couple plays later, Gamble gets a touchdown. 

 “So, it’s always a next-man-up. Hopefully, we’ll have Pitts back. But at the same time, we’ve got a lot of playmakers on the field, and we’re going to get the job done no matter what.”

 Whether Pitts plays or not Saturday, the Hogs’ defense will have plenty of UF weapons to worry about, Arkansas coach Sam Pittman said. 

 “Well, Pitts is awesome. He is really, really good,” Pittman said. “Gamble is really good, then they have the young guy — No. 9. Those guys have three of the best tight ends in the country on the same team.

 “I was thinking, 'There's going to be a drop.' Well, listen, there is a drop because Pitts is incredible. But not much (of a drop). They have (Kadarius) Toney and the tight ends and the guys coming out of the backfield. They have great skill, so it's going to be difficult.”

Up next

Who: Arkansas (3-3) vs. No. 5 Florida (4-1)

When: 7 p.m. Saturday

Where: Steve Spurrier-Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium

TV: ESPN

Radio: 103.7-FM, AM-850