Thursday Practice Report

Ran Carthon will be the starting tailback, but DeShawn Wynn and Ciatrick Fason will be ready to keep the rotation fresh....

RB Ran Carthon will remain Florida's starting tailback despite nursing a sore shoulder through practices this week.

So even though freshman DeShawn Wynn and sophomore Ciatrick Fason may not be far behind, there's a simple reality to the rotation.

"There's not a running back controversy," Coach Ron Zook said. "They're all playing well. There's not a pecking order."

But Zook will stick with his senior as Carthon will have the chance to spark the Gators' most important ground battle of the season.

The boss remains confident Carthon's less-intense workouts won't cause any rust.

"When you get a guy who has a little money in the bank, you don't need to worry," Zook said.

The Key West native leads the team with 35 carries, rushing for 153 yards and four touchdowns.

Backing him up, Wynn became the first freshman in Florida history to score four touchdowns in a game Saturday against Florida A&M. While Carthon missed action during the first half, Wynn and Fason combined to gain 100 yards less than two quarters.

A fresh rotation should benefit the Gators, as 11 of the last 13 meetings have been won by the team that rushes for more total yards.

"We need them all," Zook said.

STRONG IMPACT

Don't worry. You're not seeing things. Florida's defense has indeed been the reason for any momentum through the season's first three games.

Since defensive coordinator Charlie Strong arrived in Gainesville, the Gators have produced more big plays than this time last year.

Under Strong, they've picked up five interceptions and five fumble recoveries. Last season, under John Thompson, the Gators had snagged two fumbles and three interceptions at this point.

LB Reid Fleming credits a simpler scheme for the progress.

"We had a great defensive scheme last year, but it was sometimes overbearing," linebacker Reid Fleming said. "You had to remember a whole lot, a lot of checks and stuff like that."

Through three games, the Gators have a turnover margin of +5, the nation's sixth best total. Last season, Florida finished at -9.

"There's a little more freedom it feels like," Fleming said. "We know the scheme very well. We've corrected a lot. It's kind of a second nature now."

BIG TASK OL Max Starks remembers plenty about Florida's loss to Tennessee two years ago. For one, he recalls watching the Gators' national title hopes wash away.

But he also remembers having to block against two of the nation's top defensive linemen – former Volunteers John Henderson and Albert Hainesworth.

"That was a shock for me," he said. "I remember it like it was yesterday. John Henderson lined up at defensive end across from me. This was a two-time Outland Trophy winner, and it was my first year starting. That was a great way to get experience as a young lineman."

INJURIES

LB Todd McCullough will play Saturday after remaining questionable throughout the week because of a sprained shoulder. As a result, McCullough will play the strongside, while Channing Crowder will start at the weakside. Reid Fleming will start in the middle…. Starks plans to remain at left tackle Saturday after spending time at left guard earlier in the season. OL sophomore Lance Butler will start at right guard. Jonathan Colon and Anthony Guerrero should see action as well. "Both are going to be ready to go," Zook said.


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