Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Depleted Florida Gators open practice

GAINESVILLE — Florida will begin preparations for the 2013 football season this afternoon without its starters at quarterback, right and left guard, middle linebacker and running back.

One day after having his appendix removed, quarterback Jeff Driskel was well enough to attend Thursday's media day. But he likely will not be able to practice for two weeks.

Right guard and St. Petersburg Catholic alum Jon Halapio was there, too, but will be limited in practice by an injured pectoral muscle. Left guard Max Garcia is awaiting clearance from a recurring back injury. Running back Matt Jones (Armwood High) is undergoing treatment for a viral infection that will keep him out indefinitely. And linebacker Antonio Morrison is serving a disciplinary suspension and isn't allowed to practice until later in the month.

For coach Will Muschamp, the absences present a chance to immediately handle the adversity that inevitably comes during a long season and give other players a chance to prove themselves.

"I think training camp is developing your roster as much as anything, especially young players," Muschamp said. "It's not going to be pretty early with a lot of them."

Although, frustrated, Driskel said he won't force his return and risk more harm.

"We're lucky we found it early and we acted on it and handled that before it got bad," Driskel said. "It's definitely frustrating, but injuries happen. It's part of life. Right now, I'm starting to feel a little bit better already, so we'll see.

"The recovery time, they say, it varies for everybody. We're not going to rush anything, but I don't think I'll miss too much."

Redshirt junior Tyler Murphy will take over in Driskel's absence. Redshirt freshman Skyler Mornhinweg and freshman Max Staver also could get some reps.

"I've got to take advantage of these reps because at any time my number could be called," Murphy said. "And there's no room for this team to take a step back."

The Gators hope other players take advantage of an opportunity.

"It's a downer just because it happened to those guys, but it's a great opportunity for the younger guys to step up," said Halapio, who said he doesn't need surgery and his limited reps are only precautionary. "It's a great example for the young guys that anybody could be called upon at any time. Man up, man down is what Coach Muschamp is always preaching."

Muschamp admitted being without his starting quarterback isn't the ideal way to kick off a season.

"I don't think it's ever good for you that your starter is not taking the reps at any position, certainly the quarterback position," he said. "But you always look at it from a glass half full … from the standpoint of what great reps those guys will get. We need to distance ourselves a little bit to be clear of who that backup is going to be.

"I challenged the football team in a meeting (Thursday). It's time for somebody to respond. When you sign at the University of Florida, you have a huge expectation level to compete for championships. So regardless of the situation, that's what we expect."

Antonya English can be reached at english@tampabay.com.

Depleted Florida Gators open practice 08/01/13 [Last modified: Friday, August 2, 2013 11:55am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Kids still playing for all the marbles — literally

    Human Interest

    In this world of pompous athletes, overbearing coaches, money-grubbing owners and a win-at-all-costs mindset, it's easy to become jaded.

    Eli Murphy, right, leans in to give Sierra Ricci the traditional king and queen kiss at the National Marbles Championship in Wildwood, N.J. Both of Allegheny County Pa., they won the girls and boys championship of the 94th annual National Marbles Tournament. [Associated Press]
  2. Lightning takes defenseman Cal Foote with top pick in draft

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — Former Avalanche defenseman Adam Foote said his son Cal lived in the locker room.

    Cal Foote, second from left, is welcomed to the Lightning by GM Steve Yzerman, far left.
  3. It's Rays' turn to pound Orioles pitching (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG - Ah, the fantastic four.

    The Rays smashed the reeling Orioles 15-5 on Friday, scoring a season-high in runs, to climb four games above .500 for the first time since July 1, 2015.

    Rays third baseman Evan Longoria scores on a triple by Logan Morrison during the first inning against the Orioles.
  4. Lightning journal: Plans set for 25th anniversary season

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — The Lightning revealed some of its plans for its 25th anniversary season Friday, including a ceremony to honor the 2004 Stanley Cup team.

    fit test: Top draft pick Cal Foote puts on his Lightning jersey.
  5. Rays designate catcher Derek Norris for assignment

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — C Derek Norris tied a career-high with three hits in Friday's 15-5 win against the Orioles then was designated for assignment after the game to make room on the 25-man roster for C Wilson Ramos.

    Matt Duffy is expected to resume his baseball activities once the stitches heal.