Cunningham Should be Ready for Ole Miss

The Florida Gators defense has played lights out through the first three games of the season despite a few injuries. Linebacker Brandon Spikes missed the season opener and Dustin Doe was limited on against Tennessee. Urban Meyer is now hoping that star defensive end Jermaine Cunningham doesn't miss Saturday's game against Ole Miss.

Cunningham injured his knee in the first half against the Vols, but played the rest of the game. Even though the MRI should no damage, Cunningham has been held out of practice until today.

"Jermaine practiced a little bit today," Meyer said after Wednesday's workout. "Jermaine is much better today."

With Doe also nursing a sore hamstring, Ryan Stamper has had to step up since he's able to play all three linebacker spots. But he too is banged up with a broken hand and a sore ankle.

"Stamper did not practice, but he was out there doing the steps and stuff," Meyer said. "He's a tough nut so I expect both of them to play on Saturday. I'm hoping."

For the most part, the offense is healthy. The only set back is with backup quarterback Cameron Newton who has a sprained ankle. He wasn't a real option to back up Tim Tebow against the Vols, but John Brantley was, and in hindsight, Meyer wishes Brantley saw a few snaps.

"Cameron is gimped up a little bit," Meyer said. "He's not right, and he can't perform because that's a big part of his game. John [Brantley] has improved. He didn't have a good day today, but he was very good yesterday. I would like to get him in the game, but do we have it set that he'll be in during the second quarter, no we don't.

"It's probably something that I should do a better job of, getting young guys into the game. I have a job to win, but I also have a job to develop guys. I've been paranoid all my life that as long as there's time on the clock something can happen and I want my best guys on the field."

One thing that hasn't helped Meyer get younger guys onto the field is the new clock rule. The Gators are losing about 20 plays a game, which is keeping the backup units on the sideline.

"I'm going to tell people that I think it should change, but they usually don't ask," Meyer said about the play clock rule.

Tight end Aaron Hernandez had an infection on his knee, but he's fine and will play against Ole Miss on Saturday. Meyer said he's one of the most improved receivers on the team.

"He's a tight end, but he's a really good player," Meyer said. "I think Carl Moore is coming on. We keep going back to it, but I wish we could spread that ball around and have some more plays and opportunities for them."

Meyer also talked about two players that have been out for most of the fall. Freshman corner Jeremy Brown has been sidelined with a back injury, but Meyer said he's working his way back. Same holds true for defensive tackle Brandon Antwine who had a severe lower back injury that kept him out most of last season.

"[Brown] is moving around," Meyer said. "He has a significant back injury that they've figured out. He's been working hard, and I had him come out today in pads. The other good news is that Brandon Antwine is doing pretty good. Those are two names that you might hear before the end of the year, but Jeremy is a redshirt candidate. I think he would have been playing for us."


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