The wounds of the 2013 linger. Will Muschamp’s Monday press conferences would begin like a teacher taking roll in class; a seemingly endless list of names of players who were injured in the previous game or in practice.
The Florida Gators made it trough the spring, summer and fall camp with only Marcus Maye’s name on the injured list. Florida’s fortune had turned after the injury bug treated Florida’s locker room like a buffet line in Caesar’s Palace in Vegas.
Everything was going smoothly until the second quarter of the first game when the combined 632 pounds of Florida lineman Trenton Brown and Eastern Michigan defensive lineman Deshai Powell rolled up transfer tight end Jake McGee on from behind, breaking both his tibia and fibula.
McGee spent Saturday night in surgery and the rest of the weekend in the hospital following successful surgery.
“Jake had his surgery after the game; it went very well, getting out of the hospital today,” Muschamp said on Monday. “I’m very disappointed for him and I’ve talked to Matt and Carol, the parents who were in town and I hurt for him.”
McGee was not alone; D.J. Humphries left the game early with what at the time was just thought to be a bone chip in his foot. He missed the rest of the game on Saturday and, on Monday, it was revealed that Humphries also had a high ankle sprain that will shelve him for several weeks.
“D.J. Humphries, we think we’ll get him back after the open week,” said Muschamp. “He’s dealing with a little bit of a high ankle sprain as well as the bone chip. As we move forward we’ll know more but he’ll definitely be out this week.”
The two major injuries will force some younger players to step up. On the offensive line, Chaz Green will move from his right tackle spot to left tackle — a position he has never played at Florida. Taking over at right tackle will be redshirt freshman Rod Johnson, who got his first game action last week against the Eagles.
Johnson will get a tougher test this week against a Kentucky team that has five sacks through their first two games.
“Just go out and play the way Rod Johnson is capable of playing,” Muschamp said of his new starting right tackle. “In my opinion, he’s going to be very good. He played extremely well early on in the game.”
“Rod is certainly capable of playing very well.”
At tight end, Clay Burton enjoyed a career game last Saturday, hauling in seven receptions for 42 yards, but the Gators need depth. That means a change of plans for true freshman DeAndre Goolsby. Goolsby looked like he was headed for a redshirt but will now need to fill the athletic, pass-catching role that McGee was to fill this season.
“Right now, on today’s conversation and yesterday, we plan on activating him and getting him going,” Muschamp said of Goolsby. “That means you’ve got to get him going on special teams and get him going on offense. That’s our plan.”
Florida will be working in a new starter on the offensive line and a freshman into an increased role on offense but it’s business as usual for the Gators. Kentucky comes to town this week and Florida can’t take a week off or use injures as an excuse.
“We’re going to prepare the same each and every week. That’s what you have to do in college football or else you’re going to get upset,” Jeff Driskel said. “We prepared hard for Idaho, we prepared hard for Eastern Michigan and we’re going to do the same for Kentucky.”