The Florida Gators might not know until game time Saturday if cornerback Joe Haden will be available to play against Florida State (5 p.m., Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, CBS-TV). Haden, who sprained his ankle against Florida Atlantic last week, has been trying to practice this week but the best Coach Urban Meyer can say is the talented freshman is “questionable.”
Held out of practice Monday and Tuesday, Haden was able to run some Wednesday. The Gators will practice Thursday morning and have a walk-through Friday, but they probably won’t know if Haden can go until sometime close to game time Saturday.
Meyer said that Haden ran Wednesday and he tried to practice. Meyer didn’t see enough from Haden to determine if he will be able to play.
“Not a lot [of practice] but today is only Wednesday so we’re holding out hope,” said Meyer after practice.
Another defensive player questionable for Saturday’s game is defensive tackle Lawrence Marsh, who sprained his toe against Florida Atlantic.
“We’ll know more tomorrow,” said Meyer. “We’ll try to practice him tomorrow a little bit.”
The news is better for defensive tackle Mike Pouncey. He suffered a hyper-extended knee against FAU but he’s good to go. Mike’s twin brother Maurkice, who had a high ankle sprain against South Carolina a couple of weeks ago, is also back to normal so he will be starting at right guard.
Torrey Davis, who didn’t play against Florida Atlantic, will be available against FSU.
“He’s had a good week of practice,” said Meyer.
Percy Harvin, who missed the last two weeks due to severe migraine headaches, continued to practice and everything points to him being ready to go at full speed Saturday. Harvin is Florida’s second-leading receiver with 45 catches for 714 yards (15.9 per catch) and he’s the Gators third-leading rusher with 442 yards (8.2 yards per carry). The last time he saw the field was against Vanderbilt, when he rushed for 113 yards and caught passes for 110, becoming the first Gator in school history to have a 100/100 game.
Meyer said Harvin looked good Wednesday.
“He’s doing good,” said Meyer. “He had a good day today.”
PREPPING FOR PARKER: With so many injuries to their running backs, the Seminoles moved wide receiver Preston Parker to tailback last week against Maryland. Parker responded with 20 carries for 133 yards and a touchdown and he caught one pass for 21 yards. For the season, Parker has caught 48 passes for 631 yards and three touchdowns and he has rushed for 221 yards (5.8 per carry) and two touchdowns.
What Parker gives the Seminoles from the tailback position is similar to what Florida gets from Harvin. Harvin typically lines up at wide receiver but against Georgia and Vanderbilt, he saw the ball more from the tailback position. Parker is dangerous enough that the Gators have been working overtime on the defensive side of the ball to find ways to contain him.
“It’s a little bit like what we do with Percy or sometimes when we put Bubba and Murphy back there,” said Meyer.
Parker is too fast for a linebacker or a safety to cover coming out of the backfield, but if you replace a linebacker with a corner to shadow him when he’s at tailback, you sacrifice some tackling against the conventional run game. Meyer says the key to stopping someone like that is to find the right player to match up.
“You just have to have a match-up,” said Meyer. “f they motion out, who’s going with him? We have to make sure that match-up can hang with him. We spent a lot of time on it the last two days on defense.”
SENIOR DAY: Saturday will be Senior Day at The Swamp, the last home game ever for Florida’s seniors. It’s always an emotional time for both the players and for Meyer when the PA announcer calls out the name and that senior runs out of the tunnel one last time to a standing ovation.
It’s more difficult for Meyer when the player is one that has invested heart and soul into the program. Two years ago, when Vernell Brown came out of the tunnel on crutches because of a broken ankle, Meyer had a hard time containing the feelings.
“There are certain ones that you are so close with,” said Meyer. “Last year was unbelievable (Florida had 22 seniors). I remember the first year with Vernell. I get awfully close with these players and it gets emotional.”
MOODY, MON, RAINEY AND TRAUTWEIN: Asked about Southern Cal transfer Emmanuel Moody, Meyer said things are going very well. Moody will be a third year sophomore in the Florida program next year. Coming out of high school in Texas, Moody was considered one of the nation’s elite prospects.
“He’s very quick,” said Meyer. “I think he’s a slashing runner and he’s a good person. He had elbow surgery so he hasn’t practiced lately. He’s done a good job. I can’t wait to see what he can do [in the spring].”
Tailback Mon Williams, who is taking a medical redshirt this year after tearing an ACL back in the spring, has been looking good in practice, too, and freshman Chris Rainey, who had shoulder surgery is rehabbing and getting ready for the spring.
“He [Williams] is practicing too but he’s not in full contact but he’s out there going,” said Meyer. “Chris Rainey is doing good too. He’s having a good rehab. There’s some firepower we’ll have next year.”
This would have been the senior season for offensive tackle Phil Trautwein but a stress fracture in his foot required surgery and he missed the season. Trautwein was seen leaving practice Wednesday after putting in some practice time.
“[It’s] individual with trainers but he’s chomping at the bit,” said Meyer.
THANKSGIVING PLANS: The Gators will practice Thursday morning and then take a Thanksgiving break. Meyer will let players go home as long as they’re back in Gainesville at 3 p.m. Friday.
Those that stay will have Thanksgiving dinner either at Meyer’s house or at the home of one of the assistants.
“Most of our guys go,” said Meyer. “I always ask [if they’re staying and want to come eat dinner] but I think they’d rather go hang with their boys a little bit.”