GAINESVILLE, Fla. — As optimistic as Florida fans are to potentially have some consistency on field goals this season, there is also excitement to see new kicker Eddy Pineiro show off his prowess from long-range.
For the opener, at least, Gators head coach Jim McElwain said he is comfortable letting Pineiro try field goals from just a little beyond 50 yards.
“That’s one of the things that we also do obviously pregame is determine whether we’re kicking towards the tunnel or kicking away from the tunnel as to what we feel the yard line is. It helps you call plays,” McElwain said. “You know, I feel right now, I’m not going to hesitate with the ball around the 30 or 35 at all, depending on how he’s hitting it pregame. That’s when we kind of determine what we call the kick line. … I’ve got total confidence in him.”
Pineiro connected on field goals of 52, 46 and 56 yards in Florida’s spring game while missing two others from beyond 50.
The most important thing for Florida is that he makes the ones he’s supposed to make after the Gators converted on just 7-of-17 field goals last season.
McElwain said redshirt freshman DT Khairi Clark went down with an ankle injury in practice Wednesday, and he doesn’t know the severity. Clark was listed as a second-team defensive tackle on the official depth chart this week.
Redshirt-senior DE Bryan Cox Jr. pulled himself out of practice with an undisclosed issue. “He should be okay,” McElwain said.
The main update, though not a surprise, is that junior WR C.J. Worton (high ankle sprain) will not dress for the game Saturday.
That leaves the Gators with six scholarship receivers for the opener.
“Other than that, it looks like we’re in pretty good shape and we’ll be ready to roll come Saturday,” McElwain said.
Praise for Polite
DE Jachai Polite was the only true freshman defensive lineman listed on the official depth chart released this week.
McElwain called the rookie from Daytona Beach, Fla., who is listed at 6-foot-2, 271 pounds, “a rising star.”
“Jachai, that guy’s a good football player. He’s very smart, very intelligent and (has) picked it up quickly,” McElwain said. “Obviously as you guys see him walk by, size-wise he fits what you’re looking for. And he’s really a good athlete. He played both ways, he was a really good basketball player in high school as well. He’s a rising star for us as the program goes forward.”
Opportunities at tight end
Junior TE DeAndre Goolsby is doing okay after being banged up earlier in the week with an undisclosed injury, McElwain said, but it sounds like redshirt sophomore Moral Stephens and sophomore Camrin Knight will get plenty of opportunity at that position— especially with redshirt sophomore C’yontai Lewis suspended.
“I’m really looking forward to Moral and Cam seeing a lot of reps, and I’m really excited about that,” McElwains said. “And those two guys deserve it the way they’ve been practicing.”
Ryan Young is a Florida beat writer for SEC Country and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.