GAINESVILLE -- Florida is extremely low in numbers along the offensive line.
So much so, new coach Jim McElwain wants “cry,” adding,”There’s been some sleepless nights.”
The situation has worsened.
Fifth-year senior Trip Thurman will miss all of spring practice with a chronic shoulder injury, another blow to an already beleaguered and thin unit.
“His shoulder is such that if we can get an eight-month cycle off of it, then maybe we’re able to piece some things together with him next fall,” McElwain said Monday.
“We’re very, very thin at offensive line, to the point that -- we all knew this was coming, so it’s not a shock -- but we’re going to have to adjust how we practice, the amount of reps we get and the different ways in which we do things from a practice structure.”
Thurman, who started 10 games at guard in 2014, was the team’s presumed starter at center next season. Now, Florida has just seven scholarship offensive lineman available this spring -- with a total of three career starts.
Recently, the Gators released tryout dates for walk-on linemen.
“That’s the cards we were dealt,” McElwain said.
“It will be all right. The key is to making sure we get as much work as we can with as many people as we can to kind of establish who we are and what we’re all about and the direction we’re going to head with this football team as we move in from spring ball and into the summer sessions.”
Due to the roster’s low numbers, for the second time in three years the Gators won’t hold a traditional Orange & Blue Debut on April 11.
Meanwhile, linebackers Antonio Morrison (ACL injury) and Jarrad Davis (meniscus) and defensive end Bryan Cox (hip surgery) will be out this spring, too. Morrison, the Gators’ leading-tackler (101) last year, tore his ACL in the Birmingham Bowl and could miss the start of next season.
“Things are going well [for Antonio],” McElwain said.
“He’s really attacking his rehab, and has been a big lift to us. I’ve got to tell you what, here’s a guy, he doesn’t miss a meeting. He’s out there at practice doing everything he can do. That’s really good to see.”
As for the others, McElwain said, “They’re hurt. There’s a pretty good chance they won’t practice much.”
Lastly, sixth-year senior tight end Jake McGee, who broke his leg Sep. 6 against Eastern Michigan, is running well and expected to participate in drill work. Still, McGee remains non-contact and will not play in any live scrimmages.
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