Notebook: Orr apologizes, no chance to return

Florida defensive tackle Leon Orr apologized on social media Monday for leaving the team on Saturday when he found out he wasn’t starting, but his status with the team remains unchanged.

Florida coach Will Muschamp said on Monday there’s nothing Orr can do to regain his spot on the Florida team. The Florida coach said after Saturday’s win over Vanderbilt that Orr was off the roster because he left the team on game day and put himself above the team.

On Twitter, Orr sent out an apology for his actions over the weekend in Nashville.

“I made the mistake of putting my families future ahead of my team and for that I am truly sorry it’ll haunt me forever,” Orr tweeted. “But as my mothers only son I gotta find a way to provide for my three sisters, my daughter and niece.

“More than anything I love my university and my brothers and if you really know me and see me play you can tell.”

Muschamp gave short answers to any questions about Orr on Monday at his weekly press conference, noting that “nothing has changed” with his status and that nothing would.

YOUNG DEFENSIVE BACKS COMING ON: The Florida secondary struggled early in the season, but playing freshmen has become an unexpected fix. Opposite of Vernon Hargreaves, the Gators have gotten Jalen Tabor and Quincy Wilson involved. Both freshmen have started games this season and been an important part of the Florida secondary.

With Keanu Neal out against Vanderbilt, Duke Dawson got an increased number of snaps and handled them well. The Florida coaches put a lot on their safeties, and the early enrollee hasn’t been slowed by it.

“Those guys improve every week,” Muschamp said. “They’ve gone about their business the right way at practice. They’ve taken some steps forward throughout the year, and the more and more reps those guys get, the more the game slows down for them, the more they understand, the more they’re able to adjust formations and splits.

“As they get more and more snaps and more and more experience, they’re able to make those adjustments quicker, make them faster, make playing the game a little faster. There’s no question those guys are improving.”

Dawson enrolled early and went through spring practice playing cornerback. When fall camp opened, Dawson was working with the safeties and seems to have found a home there. Muschamp compared him to Jaylen Watkins, who the Philadelphia Eagles picked in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft, because of his versatility. Watkins was able to play any spot in the Florida secondary and gave the coaches the benefit of using his versatility.

They’re already comfortable with Dawson playing cornerback and safety, and he even got some reps as the nickel during fall camp.

“Athletically, Duke is extremely talented,” Muschamp said. “You’ve got to make sure you’re not giving him too much in those situations. We put a lot on our safeties to make calls every single snap based on formation, back set, splits, all of those things. I think he’s done a really nice job of coming in during the week, spending extra time with coach Robinson and making sure he knows exactly what we’ve got to do to be successful. He’s got a huge future here at Florida.”

OL INJURIES CREATE MOVEMENT: The Florida offensive line faced some difficulties in Nashville, pushing players into new positions as players continued to go down. Offensive guard Trenton Brown was already out, and Tyler Moore went out of the game early with an ankle injury. Chaz Green later hurt his knee, and Rod Johnson even went down with an undisclosed injury.

Brown is the only one whose status is in doubt for Saturday. The Gators even had to move Green and D.J. Humphries inside to guard at one point in the game because of injuries, and they held up and played well.

Mike Summers does a great job of moving those guys around and throughout the week, teaching them the whole concept of the run game and protection so they don’t just understand, (but also) their position and how it affects them,” Muschamp said. “We’re like everybody else in the country right now, a little nicked up, and we’ve got to take care of these guys in practice to make sure we’re playing fast and physical on Saturday.”

It allowed freshman David Sharpe to get reps at left tackle, and backups Cam Dillard and Antonio Riles got into the game late. Muschamp pointed out that Alabama’s Cam Robinson and Tennessee’s Coleman Thomas are the only two true freshmen that have played offensive tackle consistently this year.

“It’s very difficult for a freshman on the offensive line,” Muschamp said.

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