Florida's bye week is coming at just the right time, at least if the injury report UF coach Will Muschamp released Monday is accurate.
Muschamp announced that right tackle Chaz Green (ankle), tight end Jordan Reed (head), defensive end Dominique Easley (knee) and utility man Trey Burton (back spasms), should all be fine to play against LSU on Oct. 6. Muschamp added that a number of the listed players would be considered "questionable" if the game was this coming weekend.
"We're a little banged up right now," Muschamp said after Saturday's game. "We have some nicks and bruises and stuff and we need to get those guys back and go with who we've got."
Players who Muschamp did not immediately mention included junior linebacker Jelani Jenkins and junior offensive tackle Matt Patchan. Muschamp said he will know more about Jenkins, who has a broken thumb, later in the week. He is currently unsure about Jenkins' status for the LSU game.
Patchan is not expected to be ready in time for the LSU game. Muschamp said Patchan will play this year, but his pectoral strain has made it tough to get reps along the line. Muschamp said he could possibly return the week after LSU.
More minor injuries included defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd and left tackle Xavier Nixon. Both players are currently dealing with mild shoulder injuries but should be fine to go against the Tigers. Muschamp made it sound as if a slight decline in snaps for Nixon could have as much to do with performance as injury.
"He blocked extremely well in the run game," he said. "He didn't finish on a couple of things. Protection is something we need to solidify as far as his pass protections is concerned."
Muschamp was high on freshman left tackle D.J. Humphries after Saturday's game and hinted that he could start against LSU if he "practices better" than Nixon.
Pushing improvements: Muschamp certainly doesn't want anything about Florida to sound overconfident heading into its toughest four-game stretch of the season. Florida's coach spent much of his Monday press conference talking about the improvements he wants to see his team make.
The Gators are not blocking well enough on the perimeter. They need to find a punt returner who is willing to field punts and who can progress the ball forward when he gets it. Muschamp wants to see them stop the run better, especially in edge situations. He wants his cornerbacks to be more willing to tackle big running backs when they're coming at them.
"A lot of times it's want-to," Muschamp said. "That 230-pound back is running at one of our corners, we've got one that's real excited to go tackle, Loucheiz Purifoy, and the rest of them have to get more excited about tackling. Want-to is something, you have to want to tackle."
Consistent effort: For the second press conference in a row, Muschamp was asked about junior wide receiver and former five-star prospect Andre Debose and his inability to get on the field this season. Muschamp and offensive coordinator Brent Pease have both said in the past that Debose needs to practice better to get on the field on Saturdays. Muschamp said Monday it is effort, not playbook comprehension, that is keeping Debose out of the lineup.
"There's a key to every kid, and we've got to find that key to motivate any young man, not just Andre," he said. "I'm young but I'm old-fashioned. I believe that guys that don't go out and consistently perform well in practice, it generally carries over to the game. As coaches, we want guys that consistently do it well and do it right. We promote that within our program. We're going to practice what we preach around here to our football team."
Weekly superlatives: As usual, Muschamp passed out his weekly player awards Monday. They went as follows:
Offensive player of the game: OG James Wilson
Big-play (offense): RB/TE Omarius Hines
Defensive player of the game: DT Omar Hunter (also named SEC defensive lineman of the week), CB Jaylen Watkins
Special teams player of the game: P Kyle Christy