GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida coach Jim McElwain reiterated Thursday night that senior linebacker Jarrad Davis is aiming to play Saturday against Georgia.
Speaking during his weekly appearance on “Gator Talk” inside Piesanos Pints & Pies, McElwain also had a positive outlook for Florida’s trio of injured defensive linemen.
“Jarrad is doing everything he can,” McElwain said. “Of course, him being from south Georgia, this is one of those games for his senior year, he’ll do everything in his power to come back.”
Davis sustained a bad ankle sprain early in the second half against Missouri two Saturdays ago. He had the bye week to recover and will have had two weeks to work back from the injury by the start of the game Saturday.
A fan in the crowd at the live radio show played the role of journalist and asked a follow-up question to try to get a clearer sense for whether that means Davis will play against the Bulldogs.
“You know, here’s the good thing, Wednesday and Thursday he came out and took reps. He was working his tail off to get out there,” McElwain said. “I thought today he looked better than yesterday. The good thing was the trainer this morning said he didn’t hurt it anymore from what he did Wednesday, so that’s really a good thing. Of course, me not being a doctor, I have no idea other than I know he’s going to do everything he can to get out there. And I would not count him out. He’s one of those guys I wouldn’t count out at all, let’s put it that way. If it was somebody else I might count them out, but not Jarrad.”
Meanwhile, senior nose tackle Joey Ivie (thumb) and redshirt-junior defensive end Jordan Sherit (knee) have been out the last two games while redshirt-senior defensive end Bryan Cox Jr. injured his hand during pregame warmups before that Missouri game.
Those three defensive linemen were starters for Florida through the first four games of the season.
“We’ve had some guys that have been out for a while and it’s good to see Bryan Cox, he’s tried to practice all week. I’ll be excited to see what he can do come game time,” McElwain said. “Joey Ivie’s had a great week of practice. It’s great to get that guy back as well. And Jordan Sherit is doing some things. He’ll be limited, but he’s been back going.”
Davis, though, has been the leader of the defense.
Not just for the team-leading 48 total tackles, the 4 pass break-ups, 3.5 tackles for loss, 3 quarterback hurries and 2 sacks.
He’s the backbone of a Gators defense that ranks second in the country in allowing 252.5 yards and 12 points per game.
Davis looked to be moving well during the warmups before practice Wednesday. That and the opening individual drills period are all that are open to the media.
McElwain had said after practice Wednesday that Davis would be a game-time decision.
“I just can’t say enough about this guy,” McElwain said. “(He) obviously chose to come back to school (as a senior), wanted to finish his degree, something he wanted to do for his mother. He’s going to get that taken care of. Obviously has helped himself immensely with his play as it goes to the next level. But beyond that, here’s a guy that isn’t necessarily vocal, but through his actions is how he leads.
“Just the different ways that he goes about his daily work schedule is something that means so much, especially to all these young guys you’re seeing taking all these reps right now. He’s a guy they can look up to and say, this is how you go about your business, this is what you do to be successful. I can’t say enough about Jarrad Davis.”
On one other injury note, McElwain mentioned junior tight end DeAndre Goolsby trying to push through a “real bad fracture of his finger.” He didn’t give any indication as to whether Goolsby was on track to play, though.
“I’ve just been really happy with those guys’ effort that they’re making to come back. And yet as we talk about injuries all the time, it’s up to the player,” McElwain said. “They’ve got to be right, they’ve got to be right mentally and obviously the doctor’s cleararnce is kind of where it’s at. …
“You can tell by the look in somebody’s eyes and in these guys eyes, seeing what they’ve done above and beyond, the extra rehab piece is something I’ve been really proud of. And it speaks volumes for kind of the character of this football team.”