When the Florida Gators took the field for the spring game nearly two weeks ago, it was hard to tell exactly what was going on if you hadn’t been told ahead of time.
There were two teams – one orange and one blue – but neither got a chance on offense after a defensive stop.
That’s because the Gators had 16 scholarship players injured for the spring game, forcing head coach Will Muschamp to make the offensive players wear orange and the defensive players wear blue because there weren’t enough bodies to field two full teams.
On Wednesday, Muschamp updated Florida’s injury situation on an SEC teleconference call.
“All of the guys that were injured, we expect by 1st of June to be full speed,” he said. “When we hit fall camp in August, we expect to be at full speed with all of the injury situations. None of them were very serious; it was all two- and three-week deals. I think Mack Brown is being cleared June 22. I think he’s the last one of the injury situation. We should be full-board going into August.”
That’s good news for an offensive line that featured just seven scholarship players during the spring game and got pushed around like ragdolls for most of the afternoon.
“It was a little frustrating,” Muschamp said. “We’re a little thin on both lines of scrimmage. We had some injuries obviously on the offensive side, so the spring game wasn’t exactly the way we wanted to end up.”
Despite the rash of injuries, Florida managed to avoid some of the serious, season-ending injuries it’s had in past spring practices.
The Gators need a couple of oft-injured players to get healthy and stay healthy on the offensive line if they hope to give John Brantley a chance to succeed in 2011.
So far, everything seems to be going according to plan.
Muschamp reiterated Wednesday that junior right tackle Matt Patchan is cleared to lift weights again following a wrist injury that sidelined him for the entire 2010 season.
If he’s healthy heading into fall camp, he should challenge Xavier Nixon for the starting job on the right side. Nixon missed the second half of the spring with an ankle sprain, but is also recovering nicely.
Senior James Wilson also looks to be on the road to recovery after various knee injuries limited him for most of last season.
Wilson got some limited work in this spring before playing a handful of snaps in the spring game at left guard.
If he’s healthy, he could push Ian Silberman for the starting spot on the left side or provide quality depth on the interior of the line.
In any case, after such an injury-filled spring, the Gators are on the road to recovery in the offseason.
Here is a complete list of the players who missed Florida’s spring game with an injury:
CB Janoris Jenkins – Torn labrum
WR Andre Debose – Ankle sprain
DT Jaye Howard – Ankle injury
RB Trey Burton – Ankle injury
RB Mike Gillislee – Foot stress fracture
RB Mike Blakely – Shoulder injury
RB Mack Brown – Broken fibula
LB Neiron Ball – Congenital vascular condition
C Nick Alajajian – Torn meniscus
OT Matt Patchan – Wrist injury
OT Xavier Nixon – Ankle sprain
OG David Young – Knee injury
WR Solomon Patton – Hamstring injury
WR Javares McRoy – Lung procedure*
TE Michael McFarland – Ankle injury
LB Kedric Johnson – Knee sprain
* Note – Javares Mcroy transferred from the program after spring football practice.