GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Regarding Florida’s injury concerns, the news isn’t quite as bleak as Jim McElwain seemed to indicate at the start of the week.
McElwain gave a final injury report Wednesday after practice and junior left tackle David Sharpe (shoulder), redshirt-junior defensive tackle Caleb Brantley (finger/hand) and redshirt-senior defensive end Bryan Cox Jr. (leg) are all on track to play.
That’s aside from the still pending decision on whether redshirt-sophomore quarterback Luke Del Rio will return from his knee injury to start for the No. 18-ranked Gators against LSU.
On Sharpe, McElwain said: “I think he’s fighting through it. I think he wants to play in the game. He took most of the reps today, not necessarily in the high-speed competition stuff, but obviously in the other things. But I’m hoping he finds it in him to go out and play for the Gators.”
If Sharpe is available, the Gators will still have some shuffling to do on the offensive line as sophomore right guard Tyler Jordan (eye injury) is back at full strength after returning in a limited capacity last weekend following two missed games.
Sophomore Fred Johnson, who opened the season at right tackle, had been filling in for Jordan at guard while true freshman Jawaan Taylor asserted himself at right tackle.
If all those pieces are available, Johnson could float between the right tackle and guard spots as a backup. If Sharpe is limited, Jordan can move to left guard to allow sophomore Martez Ivey to slide over to left tackle. Jordan has gotten significant work in practice at all three of they interior line spots.
As for Brantley’s injured finger or hand, McElwain said: “He’ll be wrapped up pretty good with that hand, but he took a lot of the team run stuff today so that was good to see.”
Meanwhile, McElwain had said on Monday that Cox would be in a limited role at best, as he was last week at Vanderbilt when he came off the bench for the first time this season.
“Coxy’s fine. I say he’s fine, that’s not the right statement, but he’s so driven and competitive, right? These are the things and the games that really mean something and they rise up to another level,” McElwain said. “How do you miss this, a game like this in The Swamp? It would be beyond me not to try to do whatever you can to go.”
Florida is already down two starting defensive linemen with senior nose tackle Joey Ivie out with a thumb injury that McElwain said will sideline him “another couple weeks” and redshirt-junior defensive end Jordan Sherit undergoing a scope on his knee this week.
In other injury matters, redshirt-junior linebacker Alex Anzalone practiced with a wrap on his hand that he’s expected to wear in the game, and senior reserve linebacker Daniel McMillian was limited to non-contact drills in practice Wednesday, presumably due to the neck/trapezius injury he had last week.