Notebook: Spring game format undecided

Depth issues have forced Florida to be creative with the spring game in recent years, and the first one under new coach Jim McElwain will be no different.

The numbers on the offensive line looked shaky coming into the spring, and McElwain announced on Tuesday afternoon that senior Trip Thurman’s shoulder injury would keep him out for the spring. That pushes the Gators down to seven scholarship offensive linemen, making a traditional spring game difficult.

“I don’t see how you can when you don’t have two units,” McElwain said.

The Florida coach joked about setting the O’Connell Center up for an Arena Football League game in place of the spring game.

The likely scenario is that they set up an offensive and defensive scoring system and will feature some red zone and overtime competition. It would put more emphasis on the offense against the defense instead of splitting into two teams, which would be difficult with only seven healthy scholarship offensive linemen at the start of spring practice.

Even that plan is temporary until McElwain gets a better feel for his team this spring.

“I really don’t have that answer now until we see where we are 15 practices now,” McElwain said.

POWELL CHANGE: Brandon Powell spent his freshman season at running back, but he’ll start spring practice at wide receiver. He caught 15 passes for 147 yards and one touchdown last season, adding 16 carries for 72 yards and one touchdown on the ground.

As the year continued, Powell saw more time at receiver, especially in games against Florida State and the bowl win over East Carolina.

“(Moving Powell to receiver) obviously makes us thin at running back, but at the same time, you kind of do a guy a disservice when you try to do a little bit of both,” McElwain said. “So we’re going to try and take a look at that first and then we’ll go from there.”

INJURY REPORT: Linebacker Antonio Morrison (knee) will be out for the spring, but McElwain is happy with the way last year’s leading tackler has carried himself off the field.

“Things are going well,” McElwain said. “He’s really attacking his rehab, and big lift to us. I’ve got to tell you what, here’s a guy, he doesn’t miss meetings, he’s out there and practice doing everything he can do. That’s really good to see.”

Offensive lineman Trip Thurman (shoulder) will both miss the spring. Thurman was expected to start at center or guard in 2015, but he won’t be able to work at either spots until the fall at the earliest.

“That shoulder is such that if we can get an eight-month cycle off of it, then maybe we’re able to piece some things together with him next fall,” McElwain said.

Tight end Jake McGee (broken leg) will go through some drills this spring but will not be a part of any live work.

Defensive end Bryan Cox (hip) and linebacker Jarrad Davis (knee) are still going through rehab, and McElwain said “there’s a pretty good chance they won’t practice much.”

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