Photo: Jean Delance; Credit: Zach Goodall
Along with an update on redshirt freshman quarterback Anthony Richardson's hamstring, Florida head coach Dan Mullen provided some insight on injuries to two Gators starters and a key depth player on Monday.
Linebacker Ventrell Miller and right tackle Jean Delance both exited UF's week two meeting with USF before the game concluded, while recent cornerback transfer Elijah Blades did not suit up against the Bulls. Delance was seen tending to his right knee on the sidelines in the second half of Saturday's game, and Miller only took the field for seven snaps.
“Yeah, we’ll see. We gotta check with them. I’ll find out more with Ventrell today," Mullen told media. "The other two, Blades had a sore hamstring and just didn’t feel like he could go on it to play at the level he needed, wanted to play at. Jean was just a bruise. We expect him to be back out there today or tomorrow practicing.”
Miller, a team captain in his second season as Florida's starting middle linebacker, was productive in UF's opening game against Florida Atlantic with seven tackles and is a lead communicator within Florida's defense. Should Miller be unable to go against Alabama this Saturday, the Gators inside linebacker rotation would be expected to feature Jeremiah Moon, Mohamoud Diabate and Ty'Ron Hopper.
Starting defensive end Zachary Carter praised Miller for his leadership on Monday but believes the team has enough experience to compete without him if that's what it comes to.
"We have a lot of guys that have a veteran presence on the defense. We got some guys that transferred in that, you know, they're pretty much some of the oldest guys on the defense with the most experience," said Carter. "Ventrell, he's a great guy and a great teammate, great leader, but I feel like we shouldn't have an issue picking up with that leadership role. Guys just have to, you know, they have to step up."
Delance is Florida's starting right tackle for the third season in a row, and has gotten off to a much better start this season than the past two. Delance notably struggled as a pass-protector in 2019-20 but has emerged as a key figure on Florida's offensive line as the Gators' offense has transitioned to run-heavy in 2021.
With Delance expected to practice early in the week, he should be on track to face the Crimson Tide on Saturday. However, if Delance were to suffer a setback, the leading candidate to start at right tackle would be Michael Tarquin.
Blades transferred to UF from Texas A&M during fall camp in August and appeared in the Gators' season-opener on seven snaps, but did not make his way onto the stat sheet. Once he's back to 100 percent, Blades is expected to see his role increase at cornerback opposite of Kaiir Elam.
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