Coach Urban Meyer confirmed after Wednesday’s practice that senior defensive tackle Marcus Thomas has been suspended indefinitely and will miss Saturday’s game in The Swamp with Kentucky for sure. However, Meyer said that how long Thomas is suspended has yet to be determined. Thomas has appealed the situation.
Thomas missed the first game of the season because he tested positive for marijuana use. He was suspended indefinitely Tuesday and there were reports that it is for five full games, equal to half the remaining games on the schedule. Thomas’ mother, Sheila Mote, told Robbie Andreu of the Gainesville Sun that the second suspension was after another drug test revealed traces of marijuana. She said that her son has already appealed the suspension.
Mote told Andreu that Thomas had tested positive for marijuana back in the summer after he attended a party. He was tested again in August and according to Mote, that is the basis of the appeal — because traces of marijuana linger in the system often for weeks after use, Mote and Thomas contend that the second test was administered too quickly and is not a true indicator of drug use, therefore the appeal.
“He went to the appeal today and he’s hoping it won’t be as bad as he initially thought,” said Mote in the interview with Andreu and the Sun. “We’re hoping maybe it will be only a couple of games at the most.”
Mote also said that the results of the appeal should be made known on Thursday.
Meyer would not comment about the length of the suspension Wednesday night, saying, “I’ll comment at the appropriate time. He is suspended. The whole situation is under review. There’s a bunch of stuff out there and it’s under evaluation. I’ll comment when it’s appropriate. There is no timetable. There’s nothing set.
As is his policy, Meyer would not go into specifics of the suspension or the appeals process.
“I have to learn more about it,” he said. He won’t play this week but out of fairness to the young person [I’ll talk about it] at the appropriate time.”
Until there is clarification, Meyer said that Thomas is suspended from all team activities.
With Thomas out for the Kentucky game and possibly longer depending on an appeals process that Mote said would be announced on Thursday, Meyer spent Wednesday considering his options at defensive tackle. One option would be to move defensive end Ray McDonald inside. McDonald played on the inside the first two years of his Florida career but was moved to defensive end last season.
“There’s a chance Ray McDonald will go inside,” said Meyer. “Derrick Harvey (defensive end) has really been playing well and so has Jarvis Moss obviously, so we have some depth at that position and that position is playing well. He [McDonald] played very well against Tennessee.”
In the fourth quarter when the Gators pretty much shut down Tennessee last Saturday night in Knoxville, McDonald and Thomas played the bulk of the snaps at tackle flanked on the ends by Harvey and Moss. That was probably Florida’s most effective front four of the evening.
Without Thomas in the lineup, McDonald would move inside to give the Gators a three-man rotation along with Joe Cohen and Steven Harris, with Clint McMillan and Javier Estopinan serving as the chief backups. With McDonald gone from the rotation at end, true freshman Jermaine Cunningham will move more prominently in the rotation at end.
Meyer indicated that McDonald has had good practices at the tackle position and that familiarity may have something to do with the ease in transition.
“Early in his career he played a lot inside,” said Meyer. “Actually, that’s his favorite positions … inside. I was asking our offensive linemen about him and they made comments that there’s a lot of explosiveness there. He has great hands and that’s so much of playing inside.”
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Freshman wide receiver Percy Harvin (high ankle sprain) was still in a boot after Wednesday’s practice but Meyer said that he’s been told the boot should be off by Thursday.
“Still in a boot,” said Meyer. “They say that tomorrow he should be able to go.”
Harvin has seven rushing attempts for 81 yards (11.6 per carry average) through three games and eight pass receptions for 145 yards (18.1 per catch) and one touchdown. Against Tennessee he only handled the ball twice before he went down with the sprained ankle — a 12-yard gain on a running play and a 13-yard gain on a pass.
Meyer expects that Harvin will see some action against Kentucky.
“He can’t play 50 plays but he can play 10 to 20 plays,” said Meyer, who added that true freshmen Jarred Fayson and Brandon “Super Gnat” James are expected to get some time on the field in the slot against the Wildcats.
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Redshirt freshman guard Ronnie Wilson was back at practice Wednesday. Wilson broke his ankle back in August drills. At the time he was running at the number one right guard position.
Meyer was obviously happy to have the 6-3, 310-pounder from Pompano Beach back practicing once again. He praised Wilson for his hard work to rehab the ankle and get back to playing quickly.
“What an attitude, what an effort and what effort of our training staff,” said Meyer. “He’s getting real close to playing.”
Asked if it’s possible that Wilson could play against Kentucky, Meyer said, “He’s getting real close to playing. There’s a chance. It looks like he’s ready. If I was a doctor he could play this week but I’m not.”
Wilson’s return might pose an interesting dilemma for Florida’s coaching staff. When Wilson went down, junior Drew Miller moved inside to right guard and fourth year junior Carlton Medder moved to right tackle. Medder has graded champion all three weeks as a starter so the question is, should Miller move back outside or should he stay on the inside, particularly since the offensive line has played increasingly better with each game.
“Medder is playing awfully well,” said Meyer. “Jim Tartt is the other guy that’s a first time starter so we haven’t made that decision [to move Miller back outside]. We’ll know more next week but Medder has done a heckuva job hanging in there and he did it against Tennessee and graded out a champion.”
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In other injury news, Jarvis Moss wore a yellow non-contact jersey Wednesday. He has a shoulder bruise but not serious enough to keep him out of Saturday’s game.
“He’s just a sissy,” said Meyer with a laugh before adding, “No, he’s all right.”
Tailback DeShawn Wynn is fighting through a sprained ankle but he should be good to go Saturday against Kentucky.
“He has a sprained ankle and he’s battling through it,’ said Meyer. “We had to go inside [yesterday because of weather] on that hard gym floor and that made it sorer today.”