Florida hosts Texas A&M on Saturday, but the Gators could be without a handful of starters. Literally.
Head coach Jim McElwain confirmed Monday that wide receiver Tyrie Cleveland, safety Chauncey Gardner, guard Brett Heggie, and linebacker Jeremiah Moon will not practice today. Cleveland missed Florida’s 17-16 loss to LSU with an ankle injury.
Safety Nick Washington has already been ruled out for Texas A&M after aggravating a shoulder injury.
Additionally, freshman Kadarius Toney is “highly questionable” for Saturday with a shoulder injury of his own. Toney has rushed 12 times for 118 yards and a touchdown and caught 11 passes for 107 yards on the year.
“You’re going to see down some guys, but at the same time, we’re going to have some guys step up,” McElwain said.
Florida is 3-2 on the year and 1-1 in SEC play after last week’s loss. The Texas A&M game represents a turning point outing to see if the Gators — or anyone, for that matter — will challenge No. 4 Georgia for SEC East supremacy. Florida faces the Bulldogs in Jacksonville after a bye week on Oct. 28.
Not surprisingly, Florida will be without its most productive weapon in the passing game this weekend.
Earlier this week, it was reported that Tyrie Cleveland would likely miss UF’s Week 6 game against LSU this weekend because of a high-ankle sprain suffered in the Week 5 win over Vanderbilt. Wednesday, Jim McElwain confirmed the expected by officially ruling the wide receiver out.
It wasn’t, though, for lack of effort on Cleveland’s part that he’ll be sidelined.
“To this guy’s credit he was in there working his tail off trying to get back to play,” the head coach said. “It’s one of those deals when you go through that, he’d do anything to go out and get on the field.”
Because the injury is the dreaded high-ankle variety, it’s unclear how many additional games Cleveland may or may not miss.
Cleveland currently leads the Gators in receptions (15), receiving yards (326), receiving touchdowns (two) and yards per catch (21.7). Kadarius Toney‘s 11 catches for 107 yards are next on the team; in fact, he’s the only other Gator with double digits in receptions and triple digits in yards through four games.