For the most part this season, the Florida Gators have remained lucky in the injury department this season but that news changed last Saturday in Jacksonville.
On Monday Jim McElwain announced that left tackle David Sharpe (ankle) and left guard Martez Ivey (knee) had sustained injuries against Georgia and their status moving forward this week against Vanderbilt would be questionable.
“Probably the biggest issues we’re going have is on the offensive line,” McElwain said on Monday afternoon. “David Sharpe did something to his foot. He’s in a boot. It’s a big boot. He’s a big guy, it’s a big boot. So he probably won’t go. Martez Ivey, his knee actually swelled up from that thing that he had earlier.”
Gator Country was able to reach Sharpe’s father (David Sharpe Senior) on Monday afternoon and he seemed optimistic about his son’s injury, even if it does keep him out of the game this week, as McElwain suggested.
“My son told me it was just a sprain,” Sharpe Sr. told Gator Country. “I told him to go ahead and get treatment and go ahead and get a MRI.”
Ivey had his knee scoped before the season, a procedure that cost him the first two games of the season. McElwain would not confirm if Ivey would need another procedure on his knee this week but losing these two players will put the Florida offensive line in a bind.
“OK, so the whole left side,” senior tight end Jake McGee said when the injuries were brought to his attention. “They’re tough guys and they’ll be back soon and whoever has to step in will be ready to go.”
Replacing two starters is more than just stepping in. Florida will have to shuffle bodies around; as well as count on players who have has limited roles this season. Right tackle Mason Halter will likely have to slide over to left tackle and true freshman Fred Johnson (who has played in the rotation at right tackle) will likely earn his first start this weekend against Vanderbilt.
“What that means is Fred Johnson is going to have to play,” said McElwain. “He played in the last ball game and played pretty darn good. Obviously, Mason will move over to left if needed and having Dorsey back is really going to help us on the inside. So we’ve got some things we need to adjust up front.”
Florida’s rushing attack had been stagnant the past several games before breaking out for 258 rushing yards and a 5.4-yard per-carry average against Georgia. In marked the first time the Florida Gators offense had surpassed four yards per carry since SEC play started on September 19.
The Vanderbilt rush defense is no joke either. The Commodores bring in the SEC’s fourth-ranked rushing defense (114.88 yards per game) into Gainesville this weekend.
The Gators will need to adopt a “next man up” mentality when it comes to the game this Saturday.