GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Gators could be without one of their critical players in the secondary this week.
Florida coach Jim McElwain announced Monday that versatile sophomore defensive back Chauncey Gardner underwent an MRI after suffering a leg injury in the second half of the No. 17 Gators’ 33-17 season-opening loss to No. 11 Michigan on Saturday. He left the game on crutches and in a walking boot. McElwain said he did not have results of the MRI yet and would provide an update on Gardner’s status on Wednesday.
Gardner is one of three active players on Florida’s secondary who had considerable playing time heading into the season, along with redshirt senior safety Nick Washington and senior cornerback Duke Dawson. A fourth, redshirt senior safety Marcell Harris, suffered a season-ending torn right Achilles tendon prior to the start of fall camp.
Gardner played in all 13 games last season, starting the final three at safety after season-ending injuries to Washington and Marcus Maye.
In those final three games — Florida State, Alabama and Iowa — Gardner recorded 17 total tackles and 3 interceptions. He earned Outback Bowl MVP honors after intercepting two fourth-quarter passes, returning the first for a touchdown. Most of the time that he was on the field, Gardner was playing either safety or nickel.
Should Gardner be out, McElwain will likely rely on the combination true freshman Shawn Davis and Brad Edwards and sophomore Jeawon Taylor to fill the void at safety opposite redshirt senior Nick Washington. Davis was an active part of the rotation on Saturday and recorded 3 tackles.
However, there were also communication lapses between Davis and fellow freshman Marco Wilson — who started at cornerback — during their first collegiate game.
A missed assignment late in the first quarter allowed Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight to find wide receiver Tarik Black in the back of the end zone for a 46-yard touchdown pass.
Edwards and Taylor were both active on special teams.
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