Mullen: Three Florida Gators Starters 'Should' Return vs. LSU

The Florida Gators "should" return to the lineup against LSU this Saturday.
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Photo: Kaiir Elam; Credit: Zach Goodall

Weekday injury updates have grown to mean very little when it comes to the Florida Gators' bill of health this year, as demonstrated by quarterback Anthony Richardson and cornerback Kaiir Elam's lack of availability over certain stretches of the 2021 season despite encouraging reports.

However, head coach Dan Mullen sounded optimistic, once again, about a handful of players being able to return this weekend when the Gators travel to Baton Rogue, La. to face the LSU Tigers, including three starters by name.

"Injury-wise, we should get some guys back, which is a good thing," Mullen opened his Monday afternoon press conference. "Probably big ones Kaiir, [left tackle] Richard Gouraige, I don't know who else I'm missing. You guys ask me because I'm probably missing people. But I don't meet with our trainers for another hour just to see how today went, but I'll let you know."

Asked specifically about the health of running back Malik Davis later on, Mullen responded: “He should be back this week. I haven’t gotten a report yet, but he was on the report expected to be back to practice this week.”

Elam has missed the past three games while he recovers from a knee sprain suffered against Alabama in Week 3, an injury that he played through for a full half against the Crimson Tide. Mullen considered Elam "probable" to play against Kentucky (he didn't), then lumped Elam in with an unnamed group of "questionable" players vs. Vanderbilt - Elam warmed up before the contest but ultimately did not dress for the game.

The Gators' top cornerback and arguably their best defender, Elam has tallied eight tackles, an interception, three defended passes and a completion percentage allowed in coverage of 40 percent on ten targets, per Pro Football Focus.

Gouraige, Florida's starting left tackle, suffered an undisclosed injury against Kentucky and proceeded to miss the Vanderbilt game as he recovered, while Michael Tarquin filled his spot on the offensive line and held his own. Tarquin has switched between the left and right tackle positions in relief this season and has proven himself as a serviceable swing lineman.

As for Davis, he missed the Vanderbilt game with an undisclosed injury as well. That mattered very little for the Gators' rushing attack in this specific matchup as UF ran the ball for 181 yards on 34 attempts (5.3 yards per carry). Nay'Quan Wright and Dameon Pierce led the running back rotation, as Wright paced the team in yards with 46 while Pierce was able to score twice on the ground, and a third time through the air.

Davis ranks second on the team in rushing yards this season, behind quarterback Emory Jones, with 49 attempts for 281 yards and three touchdowns.

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