GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — No. 10 Florida will be close to full strength, especially on defense, for its biggest game of the season.
Coach Dan Mullen said Monday that six injured players — including speedy cornerback CJ Henderson and disruptive defensive end Jabari Zuniga — will be back against seventh-ranked Auburn in the Swamp.
It’s a top-10 matchup involving two of the Southeastern Conference’s five undefeated teams, and the Gators will have two of their top players back on the field for it.
Henderson missed the last three games after spraining his left ankle against Tennessee-Martin in early September. Zuniga tweaked his left ankle the following week at Kentucky and missed two games.
Henderson, a junior from Miami, has six interceptions in 27 games. Zuniga, a senior from Marietta, Georgia, has 18 ½ sacks in 39 games.
“The guys that are veteran players, I don’t worry about as much,” Mullen said. “The key is just getting them back in the flow at practice and getting them the practice reps they need.”
Safety Shawn Davis, linebacker Ventrell Miller, receiver Freddie Swain and safety Jeawon Taylor — each of them has started at least one game this season — also will return after missing last week’s game against lower-division Towson.
“I’m not going to say everybody is 100% coming back into it, but they are going to be ready to play,” Mullen said. “Us getting them prepared throughout the week to get ready to be as close to 100% as possible on Saturday is the most important thing. That’s the concern of getting them to go, but I’m happy to have guys coming back.”
Florida will be without elusive receiver Kadarius Toney for a fourth consecutive game. Toney injured his left shoulder against UT Martin, and Mullen said he won’t be back until after the team’s bye week. That means he will miss games against Auburn, fifth-ranked LSU and South Carolina. He’s expected to return against No. 3 Georgia on Nov. 2.
Toney is one of Florida’s top playmakers. The offense also is without starting quarterback Feleipe Franks.
But the team is otherwise as healthy as it’s been since the season opener, and the defense is expected to be intact for the first time all year.
“I’m really looking forward to having all my brothers on the field with me,” cornerback Marco Wilson said. “Now we can run as one, with nobody out, we’re deep with depth. That’s great.”