The defensive issues that Florida experienced last week against ECU may have been solved in the easiest way possible- by getting the nation’s best cornerback back in the starting lineup.
Jim McElwain announced that Vernon Hargreaves, who missed last week’s game against East Carolina after getting nicked up in practice, is now “probable” for the Kentucky game. The Gators also get safety Keanu Neal back.
The absence of both Neal and Hargreaves caused major problems against ECU’s Air Raid offense, as the Pirates dinked and dumped their way to nearly 400 yards through the air against the weakened Gator secondary. Kentucky runs a variation of the Air Raid, and though it’s a slightly weaker and less effective version of it than East Carolina runs, getting those guys back is obviously a major upgrade and should limit the success Kentucky quarterback Patrick Towles has through the air.
Joining Neal and Hargreaves in the starting lineup is offensive tackle Martez Ivey. We were already pretty sure he’d be playing, but McElwain ended any debate today by moving him from “probable” to “he’s good to go.” Florida’s line has had some issues this year, to say the least, and even though Ivey’s a freshman, the tremendous athleticism he brings should improve the line substantially by itself.
In other injury news, linebacker Alex Anzalone is out against Kentucky, and there’s currently no timetable for his return. Wide receiver Josh Grady is out with a leg injury, and McElwain said C’yontai Lewis, who hurt his hand yesterday, will know tomorrow whether he’ll be able to play or not against the Wildcats.
Now for the big “news”. Florida’s QB battle will apparently last another week- but possibly not much longer than that.
Jim McElwain stated that there is no timeline on determining a permanent starting QB, and that he believes both QB’s will be playing at various points against Kentucky. However, we got our first clue that the quarterback battle might be drawing to a close. McElwain admitted that this time, unlike against ECU, if one of the quarterbacks in the game gets hot and has a lot of success, he won’t yank him just to put the other one in.
Today it was Will Grier taking the first team reps at quarterback, after Harris did so yesterday. Both have made their cases, and the coaching staff will sit down tonight, watch the film, and (probably) make a definite decision as to who the starter will be tomorrow. Both were pretty even this week in practice; if I had to guess which QB will start, I’d say Grier, but I wouldn’t be shocked if Harris was, either.