While Florida teased the idea of being near full health as legitimate SEC play was at their doorstep, the Gators sold that idea just a little short.
Despite being named a starter and dressing for the first time in several weeks, defensive end Jabari Zuniga failed to see a snap of action against the Auburn Tigers during the Gators 24-13 victory this past Saturday. Florida's pass rush lived up to their standard without him, but his presence on the defensive line is never unwanted.
"We didn’t play Zu [Jabari Zuniga]," stated head coach Dan Mullen on Monday. "He was available. He was cleared to play, but I don’t think he was 100 percent. Going into the game, our thoughts were, ‘Hey, if we cannot play him this week, gives him the opportunity to be 100 percent next week, instead of kind of playing at 80 percent on consecutive, you know, week after week as he was battling."
Zuniga hadn't played since Week 3 against the Kentucky Wildcats, and in that game, he suffered a mild ankle sprain that sent him to the sidelines for several weeks. While he did dress for Auburn unlike the previous two games, Zuniga remained sidelined against the Tigers.
"I know he wanted to play," continued Mullen. "He didn’t get into the game, but that’s a good thing for us because we expect him to be 100 percent coming into this game.”
The extra rest for Zuniga should come in handy as the seventh-ranked Gators travel to Baton Rouge this weekend to face the No. 5 LSU Tigers. LSU quarterback Joe Burrow is off to an incredible start to his senior season, completing 78.4% of his 162 passes for 1864 yards, 22 touchdowns, and only three interceptions.
The Gators need Zuniga at full strength in order to stand a chance to slow Borrow's roll. Hopefully, Mullen's thought process prevails and the defensive end is 100% on Saturday.