Knowing the Enemy 2016
7-2 Overall, 5-2 SEC
It seems like the Florida Gators have been suffering from injuries all year. When the Purple and Gold was to travel to Florida in October, the Gator defense was, health wise, in bad shape. However, they have managed to win four of their last five games as they come to Tiger Stadium Saturday.
The Gators are third in the country in total defense, allowing 268.8 total yards per contest. They rank one notch above the Purple and Gold, at fifth in the country in scoring defense, allowing 13.9 points per game. They hold opponents to a third down conversion percentage of 29 percent, seventh in the nation. They built these gaudy statistics when most of their starting defense was healthy.
In October, when the Purple and Gold was originally scheduled to play the Gators, Florida was one of the national leaders in tackles for losses as well as sacks. This is no longer the case.
According to the Florida brain trust, players like senior defensive end Brian Cox, Jr, junior linebacker Alex Anzalone, and senior linebacker Jarrad Davis are out Saturday. Senior safety Marcus Maye will not play. Davis, Anzalone, and Maye were the three top tacklers on the team.
However that injury report did not include players like junior defensive lineman Jordan Sherit, who has 3.5 sacks, second on the team, or freshman Jabari Zuniga, whose five sacks leads the squad. They will probably play. It did not mention senior defensive back Nick Washington, who is the fourth leading tackler on the team. Sophomore defensive lineman CeCe Jefferson and junior defensive lineman Caleb Brantley may also play. They have a lot of playing time.
The Purple and Gold should be leery about who might and might not play. The Gators have a lot of good players.
Offensive linemen Cam Dillard and David Sharpe are out, according to Florida head coach Jim McElwain.
Graduate student Austin Appleby started at quarterback last week for sophomore Luke Del Rio, who was injured.
Appleby was 17 of 21 in the South Carolina game for 201 yards and two touchdowns. Appleby has started before for the Gators this season.
Florida has impressive athletes at receiver, especially sophomore Antonio Callaway, who is a good all-purpose player. Callaway has 35 receptions for the season, averaging 15.23 yards per catch with two touchdowns. It seems like he should have more.
Sophomore Jordan Scarlett leads the Gators in rushing with 617 yards, averaging 5.3 yards per carry. Freshman Lamical Perine has rushed for 100 or more yards against Kentucky and Missouri.
So, what does this mean? Well, when a team stays injured but keeps winning, it is likely it has a lot of good players.
Florida is still in the SEC East title hunt. They have at a lot at stake. The Purple and Gold can still be the second best team in the SEC, and earn a possible major bowl bid. They have a lot to play for too. It should make an interesting Tiger Stadium Saturday.