Gators lose leading tackler for the rest of the season

Gators lose leading tackler for the rest of the season

Florida true sophomore middle linebacker Shemar James will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury. UF head coach Billy Napier revealed the unfortunate news during his presser on Wednesday.

“Yeah, he’s done. He had surgery today and he’s out,” Napier said. “He’ll be back for spring practice. This will be about a four-month deal. Ultimately, it’s just, it’s much like a shoulder dislocation. It’s a kneecap dislocation. Happened to him in high school, it was an injury he had before. Much like a shoulder comes out, if it comes out again you’ve got to get it fixed. So, everything went well with the surgery. It won’t be a major factor long-term for him.”

James has led the Gators in tackles through eight games with 54. UF’s next-leading tackler, true freshman safety Jordan Castell, has only 40 stops. James has also contributed 5.5 tackles for loss and one sack.

As a true freshman in 2022, James played in all 13 games and started in four of those. He recorded 47 tackles, three QB hurries, two TFL’s, two sacks and one forced fumble.

James has logged the second-most snaps (395) of any player on the Gators’ defense this season.

“He really was getting comfortable from a leadership standpoint of being vocal,” Napier said. “So that’s the unfortunate part. But you know, I think sometimes, if you have the right perspective, injuries can — in the long-term, you may not realize it in the middle of it. But he’s been outstanding. We knew he was a good player upon arrival, but he’s shown it this year.”

With James out, UF’s depth chart this week indicates that Mannie Nunnery will start at MLB. Nannery, a transfer from Houston, has contributed 12 tackles and one QB hurry while playing in all eight of UF’s games.

In addition to the loss of James, Florida could be without two other starters on the defensive line. When UF released its final injury report yesterday, DT Cam Jackson and DE Tyreak Sapp were listed as ‘questionable’ with upper-body injuries.

In eight games, Sapp has 17 tackles, 3.5 TFL’s, two forced fumbles, two sacks, one QB hurry and one pass broken up. Jackson is UF’s fifth-leading tackler with 25 stops, one PBU and 0.5 TFL’s.

Florida (5-3 straight up, 3-5 against the spread) is going to sport all-black uniforms for Saturday’s noon Eastern kick vs. Arkansas. As of Thursday afternoon, most books had the Gators installed as 5.5-point home favorites with a total of 50.5. The Razorbacks were +180 to +195 on the money line.

Napier’s team is undefeated in four home games with a 2-2 spread record, while Arkansas (2-6 SU, 4-4 ATS) is winless in three road assignments. However, Sam Pittman’s club is 3-0 ATS on the road, losing its three games by 13 combined points at Ole Miss (27-20), at LSU (34-31) and at Alabama (24-21).

Arkansas is off its open date and fired first-year offensive coordinator Dan Enos two Mondays ago after losing 7-3 to Mississippi St. at home. The Hogs will be trying to end a six-game losing streak, and they’ll attempt to do so with Kenny Guiton serving as their interim OC.

Arkansas is hoping to get two of its best players back on the field. RB Rocket Sanders hasn’t played since the loss at Ole Miss on Oct. 7. Since then, he had been in Dallas doing rehab, but Sanders has been back with the team and practicing on a limited basis all week.

Pittman has sounded optimistic about his chances of returning on Saturday. As for McGlothern, a third-team All-SEC CB in 2022 when he had 10 PBU and four interceptions, he’s missed three straight games since suffering a concussion in a 34-22 loss to Texas A&M on Sept. 30.

According to Pro Football Focus, McGlothern was the highest-graded Power Five CB in the country before getting injured. In five games this year, he has nine tackles, two TFL’s, two interceptions with 31 return yards, two PBU and one forced fumble.

ESPN2 will have the broadcast of the Gators and the Hogs from The Swamp at noon Eastern.