Notebook: Filling in for injured players

The Gators came out of Saturday’s season opener with a 65-0 win over Eastern Michigan, but they also lost two important players on the offense. Tight end Jake McGee (broken leg) was lost for the season and left tackle D.J. Humphries (high ankle sprain/bone chip) will miss the next two games. Florida now turns its focus to replacing them.

Jake McGee’s injury gave senior Clay Burton an opportunity on Saturday, and he responded with a team-high seven catches to go for 42 yards. After the game, the offensive players all echoed their frustration and support for McGee. Despite joining the team during the summer, he became a respected member of the locker room, but his year ended with his first-year half.

Will Muschamp said it’s too early in the process to know what options McGee will pursue in the future.

Without McGee, Burton will continue to fill a role in the Florida offense. Tevin Westbrook will be there also, but the big change includes the addition of freshman DeAndre Goolsby. Muschamp said they had plans for him to get involved during Saturday’s game against Eastern Michigan but “never got to it.” That will change this week.

“We plan on activating him and getting him going,” Muschamp said. “That means you’ve got to get him going on special teams and get him going on offense. That’s our plan.”

There’s also a plan in place at left tackle with D.J. Humphries expected to miss the next two games against Kentucky and Alabama. The team expects him back after the bye week and ready to play when the Gators travel to face Tennessee on October 4.

Without Humphries, Florida will move Chaz Green from right tackle to left tackle. That pushes redshirt freshman Rod Johnson into the starting lineup at right tackle. Freshman David Sharpe, who played most of the game at left tackle on Saturday, will serve as the third tackle. Senior Trenton Brown saw all of his work on Saturday at offensive guard, and he will get reps at right tackle this week in practice. They’ll also prepare Antonio Riles to play at guard for when Brown moves outside.

The juggling of the offensive line isn’t much of a concern for Muschamp. They’re confident in what Johnson did during fall camp and believe he’s ready for the challenge.

“In my opinion, he’s going to be very good,” Muschamp said. “He played extremely well early on in the game. Obviously, there was some anxiety in your first time playing in those situations. But as the game wore on, we thought he played very well. Climbed on the second level and the run game. He did a nice job of doing some of those things, really settled down as far as protection was concerned. Rod is certainly capable of playing very well. I think he will.”

INJURY REPORT: Besides the injuries to Humphries and McGee, freshman cornerback J.C. Jackson was injured on Saturday. Muschamp said his shoulder “slipped out” and will be looked at on Monday. The same thing happened to his shoulder once during training camp.

Marcus Maye (hamstring) is ready to go this week and is expected to play on Saturday against Kentucky. He will return as the starter at the nickel position, pushing Brian Poole outside to cornerback.

GAME HONORS: The offensive player of the game went to Jeff Driskel. The offensive lineman of the game was Max Garcia.

The defensive player of the game was Neiron Ball. Andre Debose was named the team’s special teams player of the game.

MANAGING TOUCHES: In the Florida staff’s meeting on Sunday afternoon, the group decided they needed to get more touches for Andre Debose and Brandon Powell in the future. Both players showed what they can do with the ball on Saturday, and the coaches have decided to make that happen more often.

“We’ve got to have more touches for Andre,” Muschamp said. “We’ve got to have more touches for Brandon Powell. You’ve got to put it in the [hands] of guys who can score touchdowns. Those guys have the ability to do that. As far as moving forward offensively, that was something we talked about as a staff, creating opportunities for those guys to get the ball in their hands.”

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