No. 3 Florida suffered losses before Saturday’s 31-17 win at Vanderbilt.
At one point early in the second quarter, the Gators’ offense huddled with the names “Robey, Silberman, Humphries” stitched across the back of side-by-side-by-side jerseys.
Before kickoff, Gators defensive end Dominique Easley (knee) and left guard James Wilson (eye) were out with injuries suffered in practice last week. In addition, linebacker Jelani Jenkins dressed, but did not play after straining his hamstring a week ago.
After kickoff, more began dropping like flies.
Seriously, who would have thought the Vanderbilt game would be more physical than last week’s 14-6 win against then-No. 4 LSU?
Or, any other game this season for that matter?
Evidently, it was as Florida’s training table got plenty of play throughout the game in Music City. The Gators had avoided the injury bug for the most part. Although there have been a few, there hasn’t been a game where so many suffered injuries like on Saturday.
“We had guys step up,” said quarterback Jeff Driskel. “When one guy goes down, the next one steps up and I felt like not much was missed. We played well across the board and came out of here with a big win.”
Ian Silberman, who had appeared in four games coming into the season, earned his first career start in Wilson’s place at left guard.
Center Jonotthan Harrison headed to the locker room in the first quarter and returned to the sidelines with his left elbow heavily taped. That meant Sam Robey snapped the ball to Driskel for most of the game.
Left tackle Xavier Nixon went down with an “upper body injury” in the first half as well. Muschamp later specified it as an “arm injury.” Nixon was replaced by DJ Humphries, so with Robey at center and Silberman at left guard, the Gators were not as experienced as usual on that entire side of the line.
“Our center to left side was all new guys,” Florida coach Will Muschamp said. “When you run for 300 yards, you’ve done something right, so I’m very pleased with those guys stepping up.
“They did a great job of getting a hat on a hat.”
Tight end Jordan Reed left with a head injury in the first half, but was able to return in the second half.
Junior defensive tackle Damien Jacobs went down with what appeared to be a right leg injury on Vanderbilt’s opening drive of the second half.
Safety Josh Evans also left the game. Like Jacobs, a source said he suffered a “cut” and was able to return.
There also was true freshman receiver Latroy Pittman, who went down with an ankle injury. Linebacker Michael Taylor had an ankle injury as well. Muschamp was unsure how serious either injury was after the game.
“We were a little bit of a M.A.S.H. unit,” Muschamp said. “I’m extremely please … It says a lot about our guys stepping up.
“Man down, and man up.”
Wilson injured his eye during Wednesday’s practice, Muschamp said. Wilson didn’t even make the trip. Muschamp said Wilson, Jenkins and Easley should be able to return for next Saturday’s game against South Carolina in The Swamp.
Easley had some swelling in his knee and the team wanted to get it “calmed down a little bit.” Jenkins ran during pregame, but just “didn’t feel good on his hamstring,” Muschamp said.
GatorCountry.com will provide updates on each of these injuries as soon as information becomes available.
The positive news is none of the injuries appear to be serious enough to be season-ending injuries. That will be determined as swelling goes down and Magnetic Resonance Imaging scans (MRIs) can be performed to reveal the extent of each injury.