Injuries hurt depth on offensive line

The Florida coaching staff is being forced to be creative this spring. The loss of offensive linemen to graduation and injuries has left just six healthy scholarship linemen on the roster. Scrimmages are shorter and 11-on-11 portions of practice are limited. Florida head coach Will Muschamp still feels like the team's toughness is being increased, but it's tough to replicate a game atmosphere.

The Gators were putting together scrimmages between 120-130 snaps last spring, and it translated into a team in the fall that was tough and strong at the line of scrimmage. The injuries have kept Florida from having extended scrimmages this spring. Saturday's scrimmage was limited to 30-40 reps.

"We try to put them in as much situation stuff as you can," Will Muschamp said. "Turns and reps are what's important. You can simulate some things in half line, pass rush -- where it's just one guy going instead of five guys going. We've still had a good, physical spring. I've been pleased with the physicality."

If the entire roster were going through spring practice, the Gators would still have just 11 offensive linemen on scholarship this spring. But as is usually the case, it's not a complete group.

Redshirt freshman Jessamen Dunker is still suspended from team activities after his arrest in January. Chaz Green (ankle) and Ian Silberman (shoulder) are out for the entire spring while nursing injuries. Jon Halapio (knee) has been limited and isn't participating in full team activities yet.

The Gators are now dealing with another blow, as redshirt sophomore Trip Thurman is dealing with a shoulder injury, and Muschamp said the prognosis doesn't sound good but didn't provide any further information.

That leaves just Max Garcia, Jonotthan Harrison, D.J. Humphries, Kyle Koehne, Tyler Moore and Quinteze Williams as the healthy ones. Garcia just returned from a back injury on Monday, and Williams was moved to offensive tackle in the offseason.

"It's just tough right now on those guys, and now it's even harder to get scrimmage snaps because of the lack of numbers at those positions," Muschamp said. "We're adjusting as we go as far as this coming Saturday and even with the spring game, it may be more of a practice-like atmosphere for what we're going to do."

The coaches will try to ease Halapio into action before he is cleared for 11-on-11 portions of practice. With it unlikely Dunker rejoins the team this spring and the Thurman injury sounding like a serious one, it's not likely the numbers will get much better any time soon.

The practices have already been changed to help the offensive linemen stay fresh. Instead of going into 11-on-11 drills for an extended period of time, Muschamp has designed practice to split that up. The Gators will go through some live plays as a full team before breaking into 7-on-7 periods or special teams drills to give the linemen a breather, and they'll get back into the full workouts soon after.

"That's what we've done with structured practice is gone with certain spurts of practice and then (give lineman a break) within that, as opposed to just putting the ball down and scrimmaging," Muschamp said. "Last spring, we'd go 120-130 snaps in a scrimmage. You can't do that with five offensive linemen. That won't be good."

INJURY REPORT: Wide receiver Demarcus Robinson (high ankle sprain) is expected back next week for practice, but Muschamp wasn't sure he would be back then. He's in a walking boot to stabilize the ankle. Defensive end Jonathan Bullard is day-to-day with a hamstring injury and could be back on Saturday or Monday.

Offensive line Trip Thurman suffered a shoulder injury that "does not look good right now." Muschamp said that Thurman has "had an outstanding spring and made some progress."

Linebacker Neiron Ball (ankle) remains day-to-day and went through roughly 80-percent of the practice on Monday. Defensive back Cody Riggs (hamstring) is expected back on Saturday.

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