Marcus Maye out for season as Florida deals with injuries to nine starters
Maye's broken arm in the latest bad injury news for the Gators and their SEC East chances
Florida is down to its backup quarterback, again, and on its way toward a possible SEC East title, again. The Jim McElwain era has only lasted two dozen games, but if there's one thing you can count on, it's that these Gators will be as well-prepared as possible to win despite any roster deficiencies.
Last year's team had a thin offensive line, a starting quarterback suspended in the middle of the season and still made it to the SEC Championship Game against Alabama and put up a good fight before losing 29-15. This year's team is one win away from clinching the SEC East outright but travels to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, for a make-up game against LSU with the likelihood of being down as many as nine starters because of injuries.
Safety Marcus Maye suffered a broken arm in the win against South Carolina and will miss the rest of the season. Sophomore center Tyler Jordan, replacing starting C Cam Dillard (injured last week and out indefinitely), was hurt on the first offensive play of Saturday's game and did not return. Junior left tackle David Sharpe and senior Bryan Cox Jr. also suffered leg injuries and did not return on Saturday.
They join Dillard, starting quarterback Luke Del Rio, starting linebacker Alex Anzalone (broken arm, out for the season), Jarrad Davis (ankle, likely out at LSU) and Cece Jefferson (leg, questionable at LSU) on the most star-studded injury report in the country.
In Maye, Florida loses another experienced senior and a reliable (if unheralded) piece of that stout secondary with a chance to be a first-round pick in April's NFL Draft. Anzalone and Davis started every game for the Gators as the team's only experienced linebackers. Jefferson and Cox have both hounded quarterbacks all season as quality pass rushers. Florida has a defensive backfield filled with future pros, and they'll need to lean on that talent more than ever going into a huge rivalry game in Baton Rouge next weekend.
UF's offensive line wound up down three starters on Saturday (Jordan starts at guard when Dillard plays) but still managed to thwart South Carolina. The Gators will likely struggle to do the same against a tough LSU front.
If Florida is able to defeat LSU and win the SEC East with that injury report, McElwain might deserve SEC Coach of the Year honors. If the Gators are able to take this current roster into Atlanta and beat Alabama, well, Coach Mac will be your no-brainer pick for national coach of the year.
Oddsmakers will not give Florida a good chance against LSU with so many backups starting and the defense so depleted, but the Gators certainly have a chance with their quality defense and an offense that looked improved Saturday. McElwain and this staff also want another shot at Alabama, and Florida should give its all against LSU to get to that SEC title game.
The good news amid all the bad injury news for Florida is the play of QB Austin Appleby against South Carolina. The Gamecocks aren't one of the SEC's best defenses, but Appleby did a good job of executing an offensive game plan meant to take advantage of the opponent's inability to make plays in space. Zone reads, bubble screens and other wrinkles in the offense allowed the Gators to create advantageous situations throughout the game. If not for three Florida turnovers in the first half, the Gators probably could have won this game 38-7.
The offense isn't perfect, and the defense will have trouble maintaining its stellar level of play with more backups in the game, but at this point there are few teams in the SEC that I trust to do more with less than Florida.
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