Starks Misses Game

A tooth abscess keeps Florida's starting left tackle at home....

Florida offensive tackle Max Starks missed Saturday's game because of a tooth abcess, which kept him out of Wednesday's and Thursday's practices. "He looks like he's about to die right now," said Jonathan Colon, who replaced the senior. "He's real sick, but he should be better soon."

Starks' absence had a critical impact on the Gators' ability to protect true freshman quarterback Chris Leak. Despite throwing for 229 yards and two touchdowns, Leak was sacked six times for minus 56 yards as the left side of the line consistently collapsed around the pocket.

Two of the Tigers' sacks came from left defensive tackle Chad Lavalais, who lined up across from where Starks would have protected.

Colon said the offensive line didn't miss assignments but instead struggled on occasion because of unexpected schemes.

Crowder, Parker return

Though they didn't start, linebacker Channing Crowder and defensive tackle Kenny Parker played a majority of Saturday's game - just 11 days after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery.

Crowder played all but two snaps on defense, while Parker played sporadically. While he recorded four tackles, Crowder's impact played a key role in limiting LSU's running game to 56 yards.

Defensive coordinator Charlie Strong understood the true freshman's impact. "I guarantee you, with Crowder in there last week, we would have won that game," Strong said.

Parker and Crowder underwent surgeries on Sept.30.

"We didn't know for sure they would play until we got here," coach Ron Zook said. "We left it really kind of up to them. The doctor cleared them Thursday or Friday. Thursday I made the decision we were going to take them."

Fason lights fire

Injuries to tailbacks Ran Carthon (hamstring) and DeShawn Wynn (shoulder stinger) caused one of the biggest offensive surprises of Saturday night's win. Tailback Ciatrick Fason, who didn't play against Kentucky or Ole Miss, gained a career-high 92 yards on seven carries. His longest, a 62-yard run, wasn't even the most critical play he made. In the third quarter, the sophomore snagged a 35-yard touchdown pass from Chris Leak to give the Gators a 19-7 lead.

Before Saturday, Fason's career-best was 65 yards against Florida A&M earlier this season.

Briefly

• Leak became the second starting true freshman quarterback at Florida to defeat a ranked opponent. On Oct. 18, 1997, former Gator Jesse Palmer helped Florida to a win against sixth-ranked Auburn, 24-10.

• Matt Leach's 50-yard field goal was the longest of his career. His previous best was 48 yards. Leach reaggrivated a twisted knee Saturday, but he isn't expected to miss practice.

• O.J. Small broke his middle finger but doesn't expect to miss action.


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