The Florida Gators defense is playing as well as any unit in the entire country this season but the formidable group will be without several key playmakers when they head up to Columbia, South Carolina this week.
Joey Ivie, who missed the game against Vanderbilt this week will be out with an undisclosed injury and senior defensive lineman Jon Bullard are listed as “out” and “doubtful” this week. In addition, Jordan Sherit will miss the first half of the game after he was ejected for targeting near the end of the Vanderbilt game and Thomas Holley will miss his fourth game in a row and sixth game of the season with a hip injury. That will leave the Florida Gators very thin along the defensive line, the group that has led the way for the defense as a whole.
“It all starts up front. Nothing is possible without those guys,” senior Brian Poole said. “Really they make it easy on us when you don’t have to cover that long. Nothing we do is possible without them.”
Despite missing two games already, Joey Ivie is third on the team with 3.5 sacks. The first game he missed this season, against LSU, was the first game the Gators didn’t have a sack registered on the season.
Jon Bullard, who chose to return for his senior season, is playing the best football of his career and leads the Gators with 13 tackles for a loss.
If Bullard joins Ivey and misses the game this week the Gators will have a short crew to work with at noon against South Carolina. Freshman CeCe Jefferson will likely have to move inside to make up for the losses.
“CeCe will obviously play a bunch more,” McElwain said. “In Jordan’s case, that would just be a one half deal so we’ve got to work through that going into (the game). But we’ll have some guys step up and play good.”
Behind Jefferson, Khairi Clark, Taven Bryan and potentially Bryan Cox will be asked to handle an increased role and workload for the Gators this week.