Thursday Practice Report

With two starters sidelined, linebacker Earl Everett will be called upon to step up. The true freshman will start his second consecutive game against Ole Miss....

While the Gators will certainly feel the effects of several injuries to critical players, linebacker Earl Everett may be the multi-task athlete necessary to ease the pain.

After all, the true freshman is used to stepping up wherever he's needed. In addition to playing linebacker at South Sumter High, Everett also saw action at tailback, tight end, wide receiver, quarterback, safety and defensive end.

But don't be confused. Coach Ron Zook knows exactly where he'll be playing Saturday. Because Channing Crowder (knee) and Todd McCullough (shoulder) are out, Everett will get his second career start at outside linebacker. Last week, he picked up four solo tackles.

"I think I'll feel a lot more comfortable after starting last week and getting a lot of reps in," Everett said.

Zook hopes so. Saturday, the Gators will need all the help they can get.

"Anybody who's wearing a linebacker's number is going to play," Zook said.

MANNING THE MAN

Don't doubt Mississippi quarterback Eli Manning's anticipation for Saturday's game against the Gators. The Rebels' leader has a firm grasp of what a win against Florida can mean.

After all, he has been there before. Although the senior struggled to throw 18-for-33 with 154 yards in last year's 17-14 upset, Manning continues to hold the victory high on his list.

"That's the biggest upset we've ever had," said the son of Archie and the brother of Peyton. "I've had big wins, but Florida's the biggest."

But the Rebels didn't rely on Manning for the win, instead taking advantage of four interceptions on defense. The unlikely scenario caught the Gators off guard.

"We felt like he was the best player they had on their team," said defensive end Travis Harris. "We definitely felt like he didn't have a good game, they wouldn't have a chance to win. We held him to a minimum performance, but we still ended up losing the ballgame."

As a result, the quarterback questions whether Florida will take him seriously.

"I don't know if they respect me," Manning said. "Last year, I didn't do a whole lot. They shut down our offense. I'm just going to go out there and play smart football."

The Gators, on the other hand, claim they certainly understand his capabilities. Considering he leads the Southeastern Conference in passing yards per game (333.2), completions (98) and pass efficiency (152.5), Florida isn't taking Manning lightly.

"He's a great quarterback," linebacker Reid Fleming said. "He reads defenses really well and has a really strong arm. We have to stop the run first, but he's a top priority. He's a great quarterback and we just have to get pressure on him."

MO GOOD TO GO

In the absence of DT Kenny Parker, who underwent knee surgery Tuesday, the status of Florida's defensive line remains a major question leading into Saturday's game.

DT Mo Mitchell hopes to have the answer. Mitchell missed most of the win against Kentucky because of back spasms, but Zook said Thursday he expects the junior to be ready to start.

"Mo's good to go," Zook said. "He gives you the energy and enthusiasm that we thought he would. He's a big load in there."


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