Thursday Report

Despite Ciatrick Fason's 190-yard performance, Ran Carthon still may get the nod....

Despite Florida TB Ciatrick Fason's 190-yard rushing performance against South Carolina, Ran Carthon likely will still start Saturday in his final game at The Swamp.

However, that's not to say Coach Ron Zook isn't appreciating Fason's efforts.

"If I was a betting man, I don't know what I'd do," Zook said. "Ciatrick probably should [start], but Ran probably will."

Carthon, a senior who has started all 10 games he has dressed for this year, will be honored in a pre-game ceremony along with 22 other departing Gators.

Last week, Carthon was hampered by the flu, forcing him to miss both practices. So although his senior status may be enough to garner the starting job Saturday, he may not necessarily get any more carries than Fason.

At this point in the season, Fason, a sophomore, has averaged 7.5 yards per carry while Carthon has averaged 5.1 yards per carry.

"We're going to need all three [including DeShawn Wynn]," Zook said. "We've proven we need them all."

YOUTH MOVEMENT

As the Gators prepare to honor their senior class Saturday, the team may want to save some of its gratitude for a much younger group of players.

Florida's true freshmen have accounted for 2,842 snaps and 22 starts this season, a majority of which has a direct correlation with the Gators' turnaround.

"That just goes to Coach Zook and his recruiting," center Mike Degory said. "I look around at these guys and they're not playing like freshmen. I almost forget that they are."

Considering true freshmen have emerged as leaders on defense (LB Channing Crowder), offense (QB Chris Leak) and special teams (P Eric Wilbur), it'd be easy for anyone to forget how old they actually are.

But if Zook had his way, he said he'd rather his freshmen not have to see quite as much action.

"I'd rather they wouldn't have played so much, but they're just going to get better and better," he said.

Freshmen have accounted for 30 percent of the Gators' touchdowns this season, and five true freshmen have seen starts this season.

"It's just an honor to be a part of a class like this," Leak said.

CONCERNS STILL LINGER

Florida State certainly will be impacted by the loss of injured WR Alphonso Thorpe, but Zook said he doesn't expect his absence to slow down the Seminoles much.

"They're not going to miss him," Zook said. "They've got some big, tough, fast guys who will block the crap out of you, too."

Thorpe, who will end his regular season with 51 receptions and 994 yards, broke his leg against North Carolina State. And even though Zook doesn't expect the loss to cause much of an impact, he's still not overly upset about the situation.

"He's a great player," Zook said. "You hate to see anyone get hurt, but if he was going to get hurt and miss a game I'm glad it's this one. But they've got a lot of good football players. They'll have some guys step up and make plays."

BRIEFLY

As the Gators wrapped up practice Thanksgiving morning, Zook had a few things of his own to give thanks for -- other than the restoration of his job security. "I'm thankful for the opportunity to be here and coach this team and these players," Zook said. "And I'm also thankful for the opportunity to play this game against this team." ###


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