The No. 11 Florida Gators (9-1, 7-1 SEC) will be without three key defensive linemen when they host the Florida Atlantic Owls this Saturday in Gainesville.
Florida’s leading sack getter Alex McCalister will miss the game with a foot injury that he sustained in the win over South Carolina. McCalister was seen on the sidelines in the second half on crutches and in a boot and Jim McElwain confirmed on Monday that McCalister is still in that protective boot and will remain in it this week.
Additionally Jordan Sherit, who missed the first half against South Carolina after he was ejected for targeting against Vanderbilt, will miss the game this week with a hamstring injury. Defensive tackle Joey Ivie will miss his third consecutive game this week (and fourth this season) with a leg injury.
The Florida Gators enter their game against FAU with the nation’s tenth best rushing defense (105.1 yards per game). The Owls will bring a rushing attack that averages 158.4 yards per game into Gainesville.
The Gators had to make due without Ivie for a month, and played parts of the game last week without McCalister and Sherit. That opened the door for some lesser utilized players like Khairi Clark and Justus Reed, as well as left other players with an even bigger role than the one they had already played.
“Some of the guys that need to step up who stepped up last game — Khairi Clark played a bunch more, Taven Bryan did a heck of a job in gap responsibility and integrity and trust in the guy next to him, Justus Reed did a heck of a job coming in,” said McElwain. “In fact, I think made a play on the very first play he was in. Those are all good. And so, although how good these guys are, not to downplay their effect on a game, the flip side of that is somebody will show up and somebody will play and they will do it at a high level with the responsibility and the attention to detail it takes to be successful.”
The Florida Gators should be fine to handle FAU this weekend, but hope to have all three players back in two weeks when the Florida State Seminoles and Dalvin Cook come to Gainesville.