Florida QB Jeff Driskel sustained a slight knee sprain in Saturday's loss to Miami and is on crutches.
Driskel was seen walking with the crutches on campus Monday, and UF athletic officials said it's to allow him a chance to keep weight off of his knee this week. He is expected to play when the Gators host Tennessee on Sept. 21. Kickoff for the game is 3:30 p.m. and will be televised on CBS (Ch. 10). Florida has a bye this week.
Driskel did not appear to have a noticeable limp as he left for the buses after the game in Miami. He joins OL Tyler Moore (sprained ankle) and OL D.J. Humphries (sprained MCL), who were also injured Saturday. OL Jon Halapio (St. Petersburg Catholic) has not played because of a torn pectoral muscle but could return for the Tennessee game.
Time to regroup: To say UF has problems to work on after its 21-16 loss would be a serious understatement, but history has shown that in the SEC, early losses don't necessarily mean the end of title hopes.
Remember, Alabama lost to Texas A&M midway through last season, yet rebounded and went on to win the SEC and national championship.
So the real test for the Gators is whether they can bounce back quickly.
"We'll move forward, and we'll regroup," coach Will Muschamp said.
After Tennessee, the Gators face Kentucky and Arkansas, and could conceivably head to LSU on Oct. 12 squarely in the hunt for an SEC title.
It's a stretch that lends itself to bouncing back. Florida has won eight consecutive against Tennessee, 26 straight over Kentucky and has an eight-game winning streak over Arkansas (they last met in 2009).
And all three will face the Gators with first-year head coaches.
Saturday's loss was the first in September for the Gators since 31-30 against Mississippi in 2008 — the year Florida went on to win the national championship.
So the Gators clearly recognize the Miami loss will be exactly what they make of it.
"It's still early," Driskel said. "We're going to have to respond from this and not hang our heads. It's frustrating, but we've still got a lot of football left to play this year."
Still Driskel's team?: After his dismal showing against Miami, the Gators stood squarely in Driskel's corner. Senior OL Jon Harrison said the team will close ranks and stay positive with each other or risk falling apart.
"It's very important (to support Driskel)," Harrison said. "You can't beat him down, you can't attack him, you can't criticize him about everything because it's not all on him. There's no 'I' in team. Football definitely isn't a singular sport, it's a team sport. So we can't pass all the blame on Driskel. We're not turning our backs on any of our teammates — offense, defense or special teams. No matter what, we won't turn our back on any of our teammates. We have faith in him, especially the offensive line. We have a lot of faith in Driskel."
Prep time: Muschamp is 2-2 with more than one week to prepare. In the 2011 season the Gators lost to Georgia 24-20 and beat Ohio State 24-17 in the Gator Bowl. Last season, the Gators defeated LSU 14-6 and lost to Louisville 33-23 in the Sugar Bowl. The players insisted they'll be ready for Tennessee.
"We're going to regroup and get ready to play SEC football," senior DB Jaylen Watkins said.
Antonya English can be reached at [email protected]