GAINESVILLE — The Florida football team is off this weekend, and the open date couldn't have come at a better time.
The Gators have lost three straight, and injuries are piling up. QB John Brantley (high ankle sprain), RB Jeff Demps (leg) and DT Ronald Powell (reported neck problem) all missed Saturday night's game at Auburn, and K Caleb Sturgis suffered a leg injury and didn't return in the second half. Coach Will Muschamp said there's a chance Brantley could return for the Oct. 29 game against No. 24 Georgia in Jacksonville.
"I'm hoping so," Muschamp said. "We'll see what happens. I don't know. His rehab's going very well."
Meanwhile, the open date gives Florida a chance to attempt to find solutions to some of its problems. The Gators have dropped from No. 5 to 10th in the SEC in punt returns, are No. 7 in total offense, ninth in third-down conversions and lead the league in penalties with 61.
"We could definitely use a bye week, get everybody back healthy, get everybody rested up," LB Jon Bostic said. "We've still got a long stretch ahead of us. We're not going to look back at what happened towards the beginning of the season. What happened, happened. We're going to get prepared for Georgia now."
And the break gives freshman QBs Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel extra time to prepare in case one of them remains the starter.
"We've got two weeks to prepare for Georgia," WR Frankie Hammond said. "So we've got kind of a jump start so we can break it down even more and really just analyze it and see what they are all about."
SURPRISINGLY UNSELFISH: Read any national basketball publication these days and the biggest question surrounding the men's basketball program seems to be, how will coach Billy Donovan satisfy his guard-heavy roster? Donovan said that in the first five days of practice, he has been pleasantly surprised.
"I think maybe one of the things that's happened is because there's been so much talk about it, they've gone the other way in trying to even prove how unselfish they are," Donovan said Monday. "I'm noticing in practice that's been encouraging to me is we've got guys right now that are passing up shots that they normally would take to make an extra pass.
"We chart every shot in practice, and right now there's only two players on our team that have taken fewer shots than (senior G) Erving Walker. So Cody Larson and Casey Prather, of the five practices we've had, they've taken fewer shots. The next guy after those guys is Erving. So everybody else on our team has taken more shots than Erving Walker. So I think he has really tried to grasp and understand who he's playing with on the floor. And he's really, his assist to turnover ratio in practice has been very good. I think he has an idea and understanding of the challenges in front of him, and I feel like he's really trying to do that.
"When those guys have played together in practice and we've had a chance to play with some different lineups in practice — I feel like the one thing we're doing well right now is they are moving and passing the ball and they are sharing the ball, and it's not getting stopped. … I think that they really feel like they've got to do that to make each other better. And that's been very, very pleasing to me so far is to see their unselfishness."
Walker said the team isn't concerned about outside expectations, just winning.
"That's just us trying to be the best team we can be and trying to get everybody easy shots and working together," he said. "We feel like we've got a lot of talent and we can help each other, and that's what we're trying to do."