Florida football: Gators overcome loss of 3 offensive linemen as injuries pile up – SECcountry.com
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — After its first offensive play Saturday, Florida was already down a second starting lineman and on to its little-used third-string center. By the end of the first half, the Gators were down three starters up front.
The offensive line was so reshuffled that quarterback Austin Appleby, who has spent most of the season as a backup, joked that it actually looked more familiar for him with his fellow second-teamers and reserves in front of him.
“I’ve been with the 2s the entire spring camp and the entire fall camp. So those were my dudes. I’m actually kind of more comfortable with them,” he quipped. “… But those are my guys, step in and go play. Just go relax and go play. When T.J. (McCoy) came in there, he kind of got the look. I’m like, ‘Hey man, go do what we do.’ And we settled in, same with (Kavaris) Harkless and some others.
“We just go play football the Gator way. We’re so deep. We’ve got so much talent on this team that it doesn’t matter who’s out there. If we play to our standard, we’ll be successful.”
That’s a nice sentiment, but Florida hasn’t always been successful on offense even with its full complement of starting linemen, so the protection and blocking Saturday was especially notable given the missing personnel.
In all, the Gators saw nine starters go down to injury the last two games. Quarterback Luke Del Rio (shoulder), center Cam Dillard (knee), linebackers Alex Anzalone (broken arm) and Jarrad Davis (ankle) and defensive end CeCe Jefferson (foot) missed the game Saturday. And then Tyler Jordan, who had slid over from right guard to fill in at center, hurt his ankle on that first offensive play, left tackle David Sharpe (ankle) later exited as well, defensive end