Florida Gators football coach Will Muschamp said Wednesday that defensive end Dominique Easley was “questionable” for Saturday’s game against Kentucky, which kicks off at 12:21 p.m. in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
According to Gator Country’s sources, Easley is closer to being “doubtful” than “questionable” at this time.
Easley went down with a right knee injury with 6:38 remaining in regulation in last Saturday’s 37-20 win at Tennessee. The knee buckled as he tried to make a move to get off of a block and he collapsed to the turf in Neyland Stadium.
Training staff arrived first and then Muschamp came onto the field to check on his junior defender. Easley limped a little at first and even paused for a moment, bending over as he appeared to test it. He then walked on his own power toward the sidelines. A radio announcer reported Easley was running sprints for the UF training staff, but he still did not return as the Gators already had secured the final outcome by that point.
On Monday, Muschamp called Easley’s injury “day to day.” All week Easley has been seen around campus walking with crutches, something Muschamp addressed during the SEC coaches’ teleconference on Wednesday.
“We were just trying to stabilize it,” Muschamp said. “There’s still a little swelling. At this time, I would say he is questionable for the game.”
Sources close to the situation said the coaching staff is highly concerned about Easley’s knee. It’s been five days since it occurred and even with plenty of rest, ice, compression and elevation, swelling has not subsided enough to perform a conclusive MRI, a scan used to determine the extent of the injury.
While sources indicate Easley said he’ll “be fine,” there is a slim chance he’ll be allowed to play, meaning Earl Okine or Jonothan Bullard likely will start in his place.
Bullard would become the second true freshman to start a game this season if he gets the nod. True freshman linebacker Antonio Morrison started in place of weak-side (Will) linebacker Jelani Jenkins, who suffered a fractured thumb at Texas A&M and could return for the LSU game on Oct. 6.
Bullard has performed at a high level while serving as a reserve behind Easley, who also was slow to get up after an injury during the season opener against Bowling Green, but didn’t miss any action.
Easley had ACL surgery in December after suffering a left knee injury in a loss against Florida State on Nov. 26. He skipped spring practices while rehabilitating the knee and was limited in fall camp before being cleared for contact. He’s started the first three games and had eight tackles, two quarterback hurries and one sack before suffering an injury to his other knee.
The terms “questionable” and “doubtful” are much different in meaning in regards to football injuries. The NFL describes “questionable” as giving players a 50-50 chance of playing, while “doubtful” means there is a 75 percent chance the injured player will not play. Just to note, “probable” means a player has a 75 percent chance of playing.
Gator Country’s Andrew Spivey contributed to this report.