Insider: Gators Defense Hampered by Injuries

(AP Photo)

The Florida Gators defense had an impressive showing in their victory over Texas A&M, but a different unit will be taking the field this Saturday at Tennessee.

Florida Head Coach Will Muschamp released the team injury report Tuesday, with several key defensive starters out for significant time.

Emerging linebacker Jelani Jenkins will likely be out four weeks after having surgery on a fractured thumb.

That’s not all, as cornerback Cody Riggs will miss a month as well with a fractured foot. Both injuries were suffered last week against Texas A&M.

The Gators had hope that defensive end Ronald Powell would make a midseason return after an ACL injury this past spring. This week’s injury report suggests otherwise. Powell will likely be given a medical redshirt and miss the entire season after reinjuring his leg during rehab.

If Gator fans are looking for a silver lining, the Gator defense held serve without Jenkins, Riggs and Powell in that second half in College Station. All hope is not lost against Tennessee; look no further than the capable Florida backups.

Freshman Antonio Morrison filled in for Jenkins admirably against the Aggies. He finished with six tackles in one half of action.

Safety De’Ante Saunders will be able to line up against the Vols this weekend, which should help alleviate Riggs’ absence. Saunders was suspended and/or injured for the Gator’s first two games this season.

On offense, Florida will also have RB Mike Gillislee, the SEC’s leading rusher, available. Gillislee’s status was in question after missing the fourth quarter against the Aggies with an injured groin. His presence should help soften the blow of a wounded Gator defense.