Star Florida defensive lineman Jonathan Bullard "is probably out" for the Gators' game with Florida State, and edge rusher Alex McCalister is also out, coach Jim McElwain said during his weekly press conference on Monday.
Bullard appeared to suffer a right knee injury against Florida Atlantic on Saturday, and went to the locker room after being cut-blocked by an FAU player. But he was fitted with a knee sleeve and returned to the game. "He had every reason to stay in the locker room, after getting cut (blocked)," McElwain said, "and a lot of people would've probably understood, given all the things he has in front of him."
Instead, "because he cares about the team ... because, you know what, he wanted to be there for us to get that 10th win," McElwain said, Bullard played.
"That's something that should be saluted, written about," McElwain said. "His toughness, and in today's age of guys that may be playing for the next level ... I just can't tell you enough about what he did. That's pretty awesome."
McCalister suffered a foot injury during Florida's game at South Carolina and has not played since. McElwain said he "will still be out."
Those two Gators have combined for 12 sacks and 24.5 tackles for loss in 2015.
McElwain also ran down a slew of other players on Florida's injury list, saying this was the first time Florida has had injuries "of this magnitude" in 2015, listing varying degrees of probability of playing.
- Defensive tackle Caleb Brantley "should be back. I put him on the probable sheet.
- Defensive lineman Taven Bryan "will probably be out."
- Center Cameron Dillard, "with a leg (injury)," is "probably questionable."
- Offensive lineman Martez Ivey "should be highly questionable," with Florida likely to know more later on Monday.
- Defensive lineman Joey Ivie is "probably questionable to doubtful." "We'll see if he can get through this week," McElwain said.
- Linebacker Antonio Morrison "would probably be probable right now." "We'll see as the week goes on," McElwain added.
- Wide receiver Brandon Powell is injured "on his foot."
- Defensive lineman Jordan Sherit was mentioned with no specifics on status.
- Offensive tackle David Sharpe is "probably ... uh, I don't know, questionable?"
The good news, such as it was: Vernon Hargreaves III, who missed most of that game with an illness reported as "stomach issues" by the broadcast, is fine, and expected to play in what should be his final home game as a Gator.
Whether McElwain is shading the truth on some of these injuries — which, if entirely true, affect five of the top six contributors to Florida's defensive line in 2015 — is up for debate. Certainly, Bullard being too injured to play on Senior Day just seven days after returning to a game against lowly FAU seems like a stretch.
But in regards to injuries in 2015, it has seemed to me as if McElwain has painted slightly rosier pictures in his briefings than not, and has not played any games by poor-mouthing a player's ability to play. I can't think of an instance in which a Florida player that McElwain said would not play didn't go; I can think of a few in which an injury report I was skeptical about turned out to be true, most notably Sharpe being talked about as injured prior to Florida's game with Vanderbilt, only for him to not start and play only sparingly, notably limited when he did.
That doesn't mean he wouldn't play mind games, though, and certainly doesn't mean Florida State should prepare to face the Gators without Bullard, an All-American candidate. If the Gators do, it will be a significant blow to their chances of beating the Seminoles in The Swamp for the first time since 2009.