Florida coach Jim McElwain gives final update on WR Tyrie Cleveland
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — It looks like Tyrie Cleveland has a chance to play on Saturday.
Florida coach Jim McElwain announced Wednesday that the sophomore wide receiver and freshman receiver Kadaris Toney (separated shoulder) are “doing everything they can” to play for the Gators (3-3, 3-2 SEC) against the No. 3 Georgia Bulldogs (7-0, 4-0 SEC) in Jacksonville. McElwain officially listed both of them as probable for Saturday.
“I’m gonna say they’re gonna play because they’re trying so hard to play,” McElwain said, “but ultimately we’ve got to wait for the trainer and all that come game time. … Time will tell.”
Cleveland went through practice without a hitch on Tuesday and teammate Brandon Powell said Cleveland is looking “back to his old self” for the first time since suffering the high-ankle sprain in the fourth quarter against Vanderbilt on Sept. 30. Cleveland did not play in the Gators’ 17-16 loss to LSU on Oct. 7 and was used sparingly in the 19-17 loss to Texas A&M on Oct. 14.
In those two games, Florida put up just 243 total passing yards, 1 touchdowns and 2 interceptions over the two losses. The touchdown was a 6-yard shovel pass. The longest completion in those two games was 20 yards on a third-down desperation flick to running back Malik Davis, and most of the yards came after the catch.
The Gators’ leading receiver in those two games was Powell, who had just 66 total yards on 5 catches.
Cleveland still leads the Gators with 326 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns on 15 catches. He has been on the receiving end of all four of Florida’s pass plays that have gone for more than 40 yards.
“There’s a comfort level when you have that deep threat out there,” wide receivers coach Kerry Dixon said Wednesday. “They have to make certain coverage adjustments to him, which is a great asset to the offense as a whole. Look forward to having him back hopefully.”
But with a bye week to recover and a full week of practice under his belt, Cleveland has the opportunity to help Florida create a balanced offensive attack against a Georgia defense that ranks third nationally in yards allowed (252.6 yards/game).
“We’ve got to do a really good job changing up not only tempos but making sure when they do get the box loaded, we’ve got to hit some of those shots downfield,” McElwain said Monday. “That’s something that he does a really good job of defending, and yet we’ve got to get some of those guys shots downfield, too.”
In other Florida injury news, McElwain said there are going to be a fair amount of game-time decisions. On his list:
- Wide receiver Josh Hammond is questionable after injuring his back during the bye week.
- Defensive end Jabari Zuniga (ankle) should be ready to go after missing the Texas A&M game.
- Defensive tackle Elijah Conliffe should be back this week.
- Redshirt freshman cornerback C.J. McWilliams injured his hamstring in practice and will be a game-time decision.
- Linebacker Jeremiah Moon (ankle) practiced and should be available.