UF’s Del Rio, Davis and Anzalone out vs. S-Carolina
Published on Monday, 11/7/16, at 2:25 p.m. Eastern.
Florida wasn’t just beaten 31-10 at Arkansas in Week 10. It was beaten up and left dazed heading into Saturday’s crucial SEC East showdown vs. former head coach Will Muschamp and the South Carolina Gamecocks.
Luke Del Rio is ‘out’ vs. USC due to a shoulder injury. He could be out for an extended period of time.
Jim McElwain indicated to the media Monday that Del Rio was injured in the second quarter against the Razorbacks, but that he didn’t let the coaches know. Regardless, McElwain should’ve given Del Rio the hook whether he was aware of an injury or not. Hell, I was calling for McElwain to yank Del Rio on Twitter in favor of senior grad transfer Austin Appleby in the second quarter of a 24-10 win over Georgia two weeks ago.
Del Rio looked solid in leading the Gators to a a 3-0 record before spraining his MCL in a Week 3 home win over North Texas. However, after missing a loss at Tennessee and a win at Vandy, Del Rio has thrown just two touchdown passes compared to six interceptions in the three games since his return.
Appleby played extremely well at UT, especially in the first half. He finished with 296 passing yards on the Volunteers with three TD passes and only one interception. He struggled at Vandy but we all know now that the Commodores don’t just have one of the best defenses in the SEC — they have one of the best stop units in the entire country led by Zach Cunningham, who will be a first-team All-American unless a crime occurs in the voting process.
The former Purdue Boilermaker will get the starting nod against South Carolina. For the season, Appleby has completed 44-of-72 passes (61.1%) for 470 yards with a 3/1 TD-INT ratio. Appleby isn’t a major running threat, but there’s no doubt he brings a lot more mobility to the table than Del Rio. And that’s key with UF’s offensive line struggling and now dealing with a key injury.
Starting junior center Cam Dillard went down with a knee injury in Fayetteville. He is believed to be out for the rest of the regular season and possibly longer.
With Del Rio unavailable, McElwain is going to have to be prepared to decide which true freshman he wants to play if Appleby gets injured or is woefully ineffective.
Kyle Trask and Feleipe Franks have yet to take a snap this year because the hope was that both could take redshirts. McElwain wants for at least one guy to still use his redshirt this season, so he must decide this week if Trask or Franks is most ready to perform in the heat of a tight SEC East race.
Trask was just a two-star recruit, but that’s because an injury forced him to miss the first half of his senior season of high school. His prep coach didn’t want to mess with team chemistry when Trask became healthy, so he was relegated to back-up status behind a QB who signed with Houston.
Franks was a four-star recruit, but he was intercepted three times in the spring game. Trask is listed at 6’4″ and 230 pounds, but he stands in the pocket with the look of a QB that’s taller than 6-4. He has a canon for an arm and moves well for a big man. My guess is that it will be Trask that gets playing time if needed.
The worst news for UF was the injuries sustained by the defense that went into the Arkansas game ranked second in the nation in scoring and total defense.
The unit’s senior leader Jarrad Davis reinjured his ankle at Arkansas and will “probably be out” vs. South Carolina, according to McElwain. Also, Alex Anzalone is out indefinitely with a broken arm that required surgery Monday.
Davis has recorded a team-best 56 tackles, six tackles for loss, two sacks, five QB hurries and four passes broken up. Anzalone has dealt with injuries galore throughout his career at UF, but he was enjoying a breakout year while remaining healthy in 2016. Anzalone had 53 tackles, four TFL’s, three sacks, six QB hurries and two PBU.
With UF’s two leading tacklers out against USC, linebackers like true freshman David Reese, redshirt freshman Kylan Johnson and true freshman Vosean Joseph will get more playing time. Johnson had four tackles, one TFL and 0.5 sacks at Arkansas.
Sophomore DE CeCe Jefferson (foot) is ‘questionable’ and will likely be a game-time decision. Finally, RB Mark Herndon is ‘out’ with a hamstring issue, while WRs Tyrie Cleveland (leg) and Chris Thompson (concussion) are “highly questionable.”
Jefferson has 19 tackles, three TFL’s and five QB hurries.
As of Monday afternoon, most spots had the Gators listed as 12-point home favorites vs. the Gamecocks, who are 2-0 against the spread with one outright win in a pair of games as double-digit underdogs this year. UF is 3-6 ATS in nine games as a double-digit ‘chalk’ on McElwain’s watch.
I made UF a seven-point favorite and like the Gamecocks to cover the number. They’ve won three in a row since true freshman QB Jake Bentley was inserted into the lineup. Bentley has completed 73.0 percent of his passes for 622 yards and six TDs without an interception.
In other SEC news, UT’s long list of key players who are injured has added Evan Berry, one of the country’s most explosive special-teams players. Berry is out for the rest of the season with a knee injury.
On the bright side for the Volunteers, Alvin Kamara is expected to be back Saturday vs. Kentucky. Also, Cam Sutton might be back. Sutton, one of the SEC’s best cover corners and one of the country’s best punt returners, has been out since a 28-19 win over Ohio in mid-September. He is listed as ‘questionable.’
A dreadful offseason at Ole Miss has given way to a dreadful regular season. Things got even rougher for the Rebels on Sunday when they learned star senior QB Chad Kelly will miss the remainder of the year with a knee injury. Hugh Freeze’s team ventures to College Station this weekend. Texas A&M will be in bounce-back mode after losing at Mississippi St., but the Aggies might be without starting QB Trevor Knight due to a shoulder injury.