GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida coach Jim McElwain touched on the team’s rash of injuries one more time Thursday night, providing a final update before the Gators’ home game Saturday with South Carolina.
There was nothing unexpected, though McElwain confirmed that defensive end CeCe Jefferson will be out with his foot injury and he added that center Cam Dillard’s knee injury will keep him out “a while.”
No. 22 Florida is also without starting linebackers Jarrad Davis (ankle) and Alex Anzalone (broken arm) and quarterback Luke Del Rio (shoulder).
“The one thing that I know going through as long as we have and just growing up, you never make an excuse for whatever happens. We’re all responsible for what we can control and obviously our energy and the way that we go about our business,” McElwain said during his weekly appearance on ‘Gator Talk’ Thursday night inside Piesanos Pints & Pies.
“Injuries are part of it, and yet we’ll have 11 guys on each side of the ball that will go out there and play their tails off. I’ve been doing this a long time and I’ve heard a lot of coaches make up a lot of excuses for stuff that goes on. That’s not my gig.”
One of the fans in attendance asked specifically about how the offensive line has adjusted to Dillard’s absence.
Right guard Tyler Jordan has moved to center to fill in for Dillard while top reserve Fred Johnson and redshirt-sophomore Kavaris Harkless will get more time at guard.
“(Dillard will) be missing for a while, but Tyler Jordan has had a full week there. T.J. McCoy will back him up. I’m excited for those guys and their opportunity in there,” McElwain said. “We’re getting a little thin, but like I said those guys deserve that opportunity. They know that you’re only one play away no matter what so you’ve got to prepare like that and be ready to roll. The communication piece, Cam was a guy that was kind of that glue in there (for) rhythm and timing and some of those things. (But) Tyler will do a good job.”
Assistant coach Randy Shannon, meanwhile, joined the show and discussed how the Gators are adjusting without Davis and Anzalone available to coordinate the communication of the defense.
True freshman David Reese is set to take on that role while filling in for Davis at middle linebacker, and redshirt-freshman Kylan Johnson and true freshman Vosean Joseph will also play bigger roles.
“We’ve basically toned it down a little bit and scaled the defense down, but also (highlighting) what they can do best,” Shannon said.
Part of the simplification process, he said, is using quick code words for defensive calls rather than complex extended lingo.
He said he’s been pleased with what he’s seen in practice.
“You miss the enthusiasm of a JD and a Anzalone, but in practice these guys have been in tune, informed and … playing with a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of effort and doing all the right things to make us be successful,” Shannon said.