Sophomore cornerback C.J. Henderson is expected to be able to play this Saturday when the No. 13 Florida Gators host Missouri.
Henderson was the victim of friendly fire against Georgia. Linebacker David Reese collided with Henderson as both were trying to make a tackle. Henderson left the game and wouldn’t return.
“Thankfully no structural damage, just a bruise,” head coach Dan Mullen said on Monday updating Henderson’s status. “So we’re expecting him to be ready to go for Saturday. I think that was the only injury update I have from the game.”
Henderson was part of one of the best cornerback duos in the SEC with fellow sophomore Marco Wilson. When Wilson went down with an ACL injury against Kentucky it thrust Henderson into a more prominent role. He’s handled that well with quarterbacks having a rating of just 22.1 when targeting the receiver covered by Henderson.
Wilson’s injury made Florida’s secondary so thin that they moved receiver Dre Massey over to defense. Henderson’s injury last Saturday exposed that lack of depth even more. Freshman Trey Dean has taken on a bigger role in Wilson’s absence. The true freshman from Georgia has played well and on Monday Mullen says he doesn’t consider Dean a freshman any longer.
The loss of Henderson early to Georgia did have consequences. It force Dean and C.J. McWilliams to play more snaps than they are accustomed to and McWilliams was picked on early when he got into the game, giving up Georgia’s first touchdown.
“It didn’t help,” Mullen said of losing Henderson against Georgia. “I mean, right there you lose probably your best defensive player. When you’ve already lost your second-best defensive player of the year, or first or second, anytime you look at a spot that is really not deep but has some of your best players, and then you don’t have both of them play in a game, and they did a good job of taking advantage of that. That’s how they were able to move the ball.”
With McWilliams struggling on the field many questioned where sophomore Brian Edwards was. Edwards has played in six games this season, missing the season opener and a the Vanderbilt game, but recently he’s mainly played on special teams. Mullen says that isn’t due to injury but rather to how each player performs during practice leading up to Saturday.
Getting Henderson back this week is crucial for Florida. The Missouri Tigers have the SEC’s fourth best scoring offense (35.5 ppg) and the third best passing offense (284 ypg). Quarterback Drew Lock is second in the SEC in passing yards per game (268) and tied for second with 16 touchdowns.