Gators to be without players galore vs. UCF in Gasparilla Bowl

With Anthony Richardson out due to knee surgery, Emory Jones will start for the Gators against UCF.

Florida is going to be extremely short-handed when it faces Central Florida in the Gasparilla Bowl. These in-state rivals are set to collide in Tampa at Raymond James Stadium on Dec. 23 at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

UF will be without QB Anthony Richardson, DE Zachary Carter, WR Jacob Copeland, LB Mohamoud Diabate, OL Gerald Mincey and several others. And there could be more defections with the game still 10 days away.

Let’s start with Richardson, who recently had minor knee surgery that’ll prevent him from facing the Knights. Richardson, a second-year freshman, started one game and appeared in seven this year.

The Gainesville native completed 38-of-64 passes (59.4%) for 529 yards with a 6/5 touchdown-to-interception ratio. He also had 401 rushing yards and three TDs while averaging 7.9 yards per carry.

Richardson directed four consecutive TD drives after replacing Emory Jones in the third quarter of a 49-42 loss at LSU. He also replaced Jones in the third quarter of the regular-season finale vs. FSU, sparking UF to a 24-21 win over the Seminoles.

Most felt like Copeland was going to leave the team, but many had him pegged as turning pro to enter the 2022 NFL Draft. That’s not the case, though, as Copeland decided to enter the transfer portal last week.

Copeland led the Gators in catches (39), receiving yards (607) and TD receptions (four). He played in 31 games in four seasons, catching 84 balls for 1,331 career receiving yards and nine TDs. Copeland had 65 rushing yards on eight attempts.

Carter had 31 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks, two passes broken up and one forced fumble as a senior this year. His UF career ends with 26 TFL’s and 17 sackls.

Diabate announced that he’s entering the transfer portal on Dec. 10. He recorded a team-best 89 tackles and 2.5 TFL’s in 2021. Diabate will have two years of eligibility remaining for his next team.

As of Dec. 13, most betting shops had Florida (6-6 straight up, 3-9 against the spread) listed as a 6.5-point favorite with a total of 55.5. The Knights are +190 on the money line.

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