Napier is a confident WR deep despite his rash of injuries





A series of injuries at the Florida wide receiver position pushed several players who spent the vast majority of their season buried on the depth chart into the spotlight as the Gators lost 31-24 at Vanderbilt on November 19.

A student in his second year of study Dijon Reynolds He burst onto the scene with a career-best 165 yards and two touchdowns as a freshman Thai Chiaokhiao-Bowman He caught three of eight targets for 57 yards, the most since joining the Gators from the preseason college level.

A week later, as the Gators prepare for the regular season finals, a road game at rival Florida State, they find themselves thinner in position with Justin ShorterJa’Quavion Fraziars, Xavier HendersonAnd the Marcus Burke and Bowman are all listed on the team’s weekly depth chart released Wednesday afternoon.

In addition, small scale Ricky Pearsall Listed as questionable after suffering an injury in the first quarter against the Commodores.

At best, Florida will have only five of the 10 scholarship recipients available for Friday’s game.

“We’ve been in this situation in the past,” the Florida head coach said Billy Napier he said via Zoom Wednesday afternoon. “(student) Caleb Douglas Up for us, Ja’Quavion Fraziars clearly had a chance. We expect Ricky to be ready to go, and obviously, [Reynolds] I had a great day last week and he’s a guy we’ve been seeing for a long time in practice.”

Florida has had its fair share of significant absences this season.

On the offensive front, right tackle Michael Tarquin Left guard Ethan White was sidelined with injuries at fullback Ventril Miller and defensive backs Gaydon Hill And the Devin Moore It affected the defensive side of the team.

However, the Gators are not as exhausted in one position as they would be at receiver against a Seminoles squad that doesn’t need much help keeping opposing teams at bay.

Through 11 contests, Florida State ranks fourth nationally in passing yards per game allowed (155.4).

“There were parts of our team every week where we had parts of our team mixed up,” Napier said. “It’s a great opportunity for these guys and we’ve got great stories from different times of the year. Think of (offensive guard) Richie Leonard, she played great ball for us. There’s a lot of them.”

Injuries leave Douglas, college student Jamarice Weston, Reynolds and Kabir Jordan Pouncey As the Gators’ only large-scale recipients without a participating designation.

The quartet combined for only 394 yards, and it should be noted that only Reynolds (244) and Douglas (150) contributed to the total.

Quick receiver Kahleil Jackson can see the field on Friday. He has two receptions for 43 yards on the campaign.

Napier said his team’s coaching style should soften the blow caused by the losses.

“There is no doubt that they are very capable,” he said of the team’s reserve at keeper. “It’s one of the things, the way we train, all the guys on our team get multiple opportunities during OTAs in the summer, training camp, you know it helps you build depth in your team so you can survive some of these situations.”

Florida will also have to rely on the running game if it hopes to pull off an upset in Tallahassee the day after Thanksgiving.

For the most part, the team has been very successful in this regard, ranking 5th nationally in yards per rush against FBS opponents and 17th in rushing yards per game against FBS teams.

However, that aspect of the Gators’ offensive attack was neutralized a week earlier when they lost to Vanderbilt, rushing for a season-low 45 yards on 21 attempts.

“I think you do what you think is required to win the game, like every week,” Napier said when asked about the impact of illnesses in receivers on his game plan. “Take what you’ve got and put your plan together, and you go to the park and cut it. We’ve been here before. It’s nothing new. It’s just been different parts of our squad different weeks of the season. It is what it is.”

The first year coach expressed confidence that his team should be able to overcome his deepest fears.

“Next guy,” he said. “Definitely excited to see some of these guys play.”

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