First, let me say that I am not calling out Jim McElwain for any of this ‘injury speak’. He has a banged up team and there are key players, a number of them on the defensive line that have been healthier. And, more may miss the game Saturday than I expect, but I think some of the big ones will be back.
So, if I had to guess, just from what the man said and what Fightin’ Gators’ beat writer Cody Jones witnessed Tuesday as the team walked to practice, I would say we can likely count two of the 11 out.
The two that I think I am willing to write off at this point are junior defensive end Alex McCalister who hurt his ankle in the South Carolina game two weekends ago and redshirt freshman Taven Bryan who hurt his ankle on the 50 yard fumble return when he was rolled up on the tackle.
I saw McCalister after this last weekend with a boot and crutch as well and he looking too good, although it is very common for the training staff to go to the greatest lengths to completely keep the injured extremity from moving in order for it to heal faster. Still, McElwain was pretty emphatic when listing McCalister and Bryan as ‘out’ for the game and neither were dressed in pads for practice on Tuesday.
The other two big ones he listed as ‘out’ for the game, he actually didn’t say that for them, but when asked later, he came back with ‘probably out’. Those two would be senior defensive lineman Jonathan Bullard and sophomore defensive end Jordan Sherit.
Sherit pulled a hamstring against South Carolina and depending on the severity it very well could take weeks. So I am less confident he would go on Saturday even though he was dressed for practice on Tuesday. But Bullard really had to gut it up to come back in against FAU after he was chop-blocked, but did finish the game. I have zero doubt that a lesser man would have folded up shop there, but I also believe that means he plays against Florida State.
The next injury status he talked about was with junior defensive tackle Joey Ivie who is actually upgraded this week from last from ‘out’ to doubtful / questionable’. He’s missed significant time, so unless this is suddenly on the fast pace to healing he could miss too.
The next level of injury would be the questionable guys. He listed three of those and all along the offensive line. Freshman guard Martez Ivey was noticeably injured in the game and didn’t play well because of it. I never saw sophomore center Cam Dillard get hurt, so I imagine he will be okay to compete this week. The same goes for sophomore left tackle David Sharpe who has been hurt for a few weeks now, but has played through it to a certain extent. Of those three, re-watched the game, Ivey would seem the least likely.
Then we have the three with the ‘probable’ status, which should mean they are hobbling a little bit in practice this week, but should play Saturday. They include sophomore receiver Brandon Powell, senior linebacker Antonio Morrison, and sophomore defensive tackle Caleb Brantley, all of who are used to playing banged up and did so this last weekend.
So where do we stand? I think it is more likely that only Alex McCalister, Taven Bryan, and maybe Joey Ivie miss the game than 5-6 or more miss the game.
Then again, practices are closed, so I don’t know for certain, and the media, fans, and most importantly Florida State is left guessing.
Welcome to Rivalry Week.