Gators notebook: Injury report, Florida players on being underdogs, sell-out crowd

Zach Abolverdi
Gator Sports
Florida linebacker Ventrell Miller (51) makes a tackle on Florida Atlantic quarterback N'Kosi Perry (7) during their games at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium earlier this month. Miller is nursing an injury.

In addition to backup quarterback Anthony Richardson, Florida coach Dan Mullen provided an injury update on a few other players Monday. 

Starting middle linebacker Ventrell Miller suffered an apparent arm injury Saturday against USF, while starting right tackle Jean Delance left the game on crutches. 

“We gotta check with them. I’ll find out more with Ventrell today,” Mullen said Monday. “Jean was just a bruise. We expect him to be back out there today or tomorrow practicing.”

Graduate transfer cornerback Elijah Blades traveled with the team to Tampa, but did not dress against the Bulls. 

“Blades had a sore hamstring and just didn’t feel like he could go on it to play at the level he needed, wanted to play at,” Mullen said. 

The status of Blades and Richardson (hamstring) for the Alabama game will be determined later this week after both receive treatment for their hamstring injuries. 

The Gators will miss Miller’s veteran presence if he’s unable to play Saturday, but defensive end Zach Carter is confident in their leadership at linebacker and along the D-line. 

“We have a lot of guys that have a veteran presence on the defense,” Carter said. “We got some guys that transferred in that, you know, they’re pretty much some of the oldest guys on the defense with the most experience. 

“Ventrell, he's a great guy and a great teammate, great leader, but I feel like we shouldn't have an issue picking up with that leadership role. Guys just have to step up.” 

15-point underdogs

The ninth-ranked Gators (2-0) are 15-point underdogs for the SEC opener against No. 1 Alabama (2-0). 

Despite being at home and losing to the Tide by just six points last season, UF receiver Jacob Copeland isn’t surprised by the game’s opening line.

“Nah, it’s Nick Saban,” Copeland said. “He be holding the standard high, so I feel like, hey, it is what it is. We can have all odds against us. We can be the underdogs all day. At the end of the day, they’ve got to play just like we’ve got to come to play.

“I feel like we’re going to execute well. And me, personally, I fear no one. So, it is what it is. … We feel if we knock him off, then we’re really the team to beat.” 

The Tide were 16-point favorites against Florida in the 2020 SEC Championship Game. In a 52-46 shootout, the Gators were the only team to lose by one score to the eventual national champions. 

Saturday’s 15-point line doesn’t bother Carter.

“Not really,” he said. “Since I've been here, we've been underdogs in a lot of games since I've been here. And we're pretty much underdogs every year, it seems like. And I know guys have a chip on their shoulders regardless.” 

Sell-out crowd 

Unlike last year’s matchup against Alabama, UF will have home-field advantage on its side Saturday. 

The Gator Ticket Office announced last week that it will be a sold-out game. 

“It’s going to be a live environment, for sure,” Copeland said. “It was a live environment for the first game, and we’re playing Bama now. Nick’s gonna be here, so we gotta do what we do.”

Alabama quarterback Bryce Young will be making his first career road start and Carter hopes the crowd noise can affect the sophomore signal caller. 

“I know it's a sell-out crowd, 90,000. That could probably rattle anybody, you know, veteran or young player,” Carter said. “So I’m expecting the crowd to really help juice up and energize the defense this weekend. We definitely feed off the crowd and The Swamp.” 

For Young and several players on the Tide roster, it will be their first time on the road in an SEC stadium with full capacity. 

“We didn't have any sell-outs last year. I think home-field advantage is a huge deal, especially now with fans back in the stadiums,” Mullen said. “That's one of the things that makes the SEC tough, that you get that extra support from the fanbase and that energy and the fans making it difficult.

“So it's something that is really exciting. ... I think it's going to be a great atmosphere on Saturday here in the Swamp. Probably the best environment in college football.”

Under the lights

Florida is scheduled to host Tennessee on Saturday, Sept. 25, at 7 p.m. in The Swamp with the game airing on ESPN, the SEC announced Monday.