Posted: 5:04 p.m. Friday, Aug. 30, 2013
By Andy Hutchins
Florida will be without three more players for its season opener, including do-everything cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy, thanks to suspensions, likely for a violation of team rules, according to multiple reports, the earliest from Gator Country.
Gator Country and Scout's Bob Redman each reported players missing in their subscriber forums on Friday, with Gator Country mentioning Purifoy among the suspended players. 247Sports' Luke Stampini reported the players are Purifoy, defensive tackle Darious Cummings, and wide receiver Latroy Pittman in a subscriber forum Friday evening; Gator Country confirmed those names and those of defensive lineman Jaynard Bostwick and offensive lineman Quinteze Williams.
Purifoy is the only one of the three players who appears on Florida's official depth chart for Saturday's game, and appears only as a co-starter at cornerback with Jaylen Watkins. Watkins should fill in, and admirably, for Purifoy in the secondary, while other players — Solomon Patton and Chris Thompson at kick returner, and Marcus Roberson, Trey Burton, and Brian Poole at punt returner — were slotted ahead of Purifoy on special teams.
Where Florida might miss Purifoy most on Saturday, if at all, is on kick coverage and in kick- and punt-blocking packages: After all, he did smother the Louisiana punt that was subsequently recovered by Jelani Jenkins for the game-winning touchdown in a far-too-close win over the Ragin' Cajuns last fall.
The rest of the suspensions, for the most part, serve to make Florida a little less deep at the positions affected. Pittman was unlikely to play much, having fallen off the depth chart of late. He also sent a tweet on Thursday that might be connected to his suspension:
Its crazy how the lowest place u cud ever imagine being is the very hand u dealt urself #backagainstdaropes— Latroy Pittman (@Pitt_2time) August 29, 2013
But Cummings would probably have gotten 10-15 snaps. Now, Florida has just four defensive linemen who mostly train as tackles — Leon Orr, Damien Jacobs, Caleb Brantley, and Joey Ivie — and Bostwick, Brantley, and Ivie are all true freshmen.
It's not a death blow, but with Florida facing a Toledo running game that racked up 2,512 rushing yards in 2012 and returns leading rusher David Fluellen, it would've been nice to have all hands on deck. Instead, the Gators will head into their season opener missing three projected starters (Purifoy, the injured Chaz Green, and the also-suspended Antonio Morrison) and a handful of other contributors.
Launching their 2013 season against the Rockets gets harder and harder, I guess.