GAINESVILLE, Fla. — There really couldn’t be many worse sights for the Florida Gators than to see senior linebacker Jarrad Davis hobble off the field with the help of team trainers early in the third quarter Saturday night, not putting any weight on his lower left leg as he headed into the locker room.
But coach Jim McElwain had some relatively good news on his veteran defensive leader after the game.
“Obviously you’re wondering about Jarrad Davis. He’s getting an MRI on his lower leg right now. (We) haven’t had any results. … The X-rays, it’s not broken, whatever it is. But we’ll get that looked at,” McElwain said. “And he was in pretty good spirits, they said, headed up to get the MRI.”
Davis still managed to tie for the team lead in tackles in the No. 18-ranked Gators’ 40-14 homecoming win over Missouri, tallying 8 stops, 1.5 tackles for loss and a quarterback hurry despite playing barely more than a half. He leads the team with 48 tackles overall this season and is tied for the team lead with 4 pass break-ups while contributing terrific all-around play for Florida’s stout defense.
Seeing him go down naturally gave his teammates — not to mention the fans at The Swamp — an uneasy feeling, but they too sounded encouraged by the updates they received.
“We (were) all like, ‘Oh my gosh,’ but I heard he’s doing all right, though. I heard that he’s going to be OK,” junior cornerback Quincy Wilson said.
Said fellow junior corner Jalen Tabor: “Oh man, I didn’t want to come off the field. It was kind of surreal seeing him really get helped off the field because he does so much for this team, so much for this program and it was kind of surreal that he was really walking off the field. Like, I mean, that’s our guy. That’s the heart and soul of this defense.”
With Davis out, true freshman David Reese — a 3-star recruit from Farmington, Mich., who joined the program in January — picked up the most extra snaps.
And he made the most that opportunity with 6 total tackles, leaving an impression with McElwain as he has throughout the fall.
“You know, he’s a guy that when he’s come in, he’s showed up. I mean, he showed up on the stat line,” McElwain said. “Obviously missing Jarrad is huge. I mean, here’s your team leader and your guy that’s played so many snaps, and yet, here’s the great thing, I think, when you look at that unit — there wasn’t a panic. It wasn’t like, ‘Oh, here we go.’ David came in and I thought played with great energy, attention to detail and made a couple really good inside tackles for us.”
Redshirt-freshman Kylan Johnson and true freshman Vosean Joseph also saw playing time at linebacker, which is one of Florida’s youngest positions behind Davis, redshirt-junior starter Alex Anzalone and senior third linebacker Daniel McMillian.
The bye week comes at a good time for the Gators, though.