Monday, June 18, 2018
Colleges

Through injuries, Florida Gators rush to victory

NASHVILLE — Florida left town Saturday night with a big road victory, but it also exited with an offensive line that was battered and bruised.

Starting LG James Wilson did not make the trip after injuring his eye in Wednesday's practice. He is expected to miss practice Monday but should be able to play this Saturday at home against South Carolina.

C Jon Harrison injured his arm on the first offensive series and did not return, and LT Xavier Nixon has an upper body injury he sustained late in the second quarter. His status is unknown. Redshirt junior Kyle Koehne and redshirt sophomore Ian Silberman filled in for Wilson. Sam Robey took over for Harrison.

"We lost those guys on the line, but we had other guys really step up," QB Jeff Driskel said. "I had a lot of confidence in the (other) guys. I wasn't shaken up at all."

And there were other injuries. TE Jordan Reed injured his left eye but returned in the second half. RB Latroy Pittman (ankle) and TE Kent Taylor (ankle) also went out. DL Dominique Easley (knee) and LB Jelani Jenkins (hamstring) did not play for precautionary reasons and are expected back this week.

Even with the injuries, Florida rushed for 326 yards.

"We were a little bit of a MASH unit on the offensive line, so I was really proud of those guys," coach Will Muschamp said.

"As many looks as Vanderbilt gave us and being able to rush for 300 yards, I'm really proud of those guys. I'm really pleased we were able to rush for so many yards and have three offensive linemen out."

PREPARING FOR THE GAMECOCKS: Florida hosts South Carolina in a pivotal game this Saturday, and talk of the Gamecocks began shortly after the clock had run out on the Vanderbilt game.

"It's going to be a huge game," Driskel said. "We'll start to look at the film (today) a little bit and really get into on Monday. But we're going to be ready to go.

"It's another big-time SEC East game, and we're going to do what we can to win the game."

CLOSING IN: With his 26-yard field goal with 5:24 remaining the game, Caleb Sturgis connected on his 56th career field goal. Sturgis is now 11 shy of tying the UF record held by Jeff Chandler.

TOUGH LOSS: Vanderbilt had a sold-out stadium for the first time since 2008, also when the Gators were in town, so to come close but fall short was tough, coach James Franklin said.

Although a large chunk of Vanderbilt Stadium was filled with Gator fans, Franklin said he appreciated the support from Commodores fans, particularly in a tough season.

"For the fans that showed up, I appreciate them," he said. "We need them to show up early and stay late. We need their help. We have to create a homefield advantage.

"I need everyone's help. Everyone is a part of getting this in the right direction."

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