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Florida vs. LSU: Luke Del Rio could be back, but Gators’ defensive line hurting

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Florida’s injury report is dotted with defensive linemen.

North Texas v Florida Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images

Florida’s got a load of injuries to deal with on Saturday against LSU, as Jim McElwain detailed — “detailed,” perhaps — in his Monday press conference.

The most important injury for most Florida fans is the MCL sprain Luke Del Rio sustained three weeks ago against North Texas, which has kept him out of the Gators’ last two games. Del Rio practiced last week, and dressed for games at Tennessee and Vanderbilt — with reports suggesting he was available as an “emergency” quarterback in Nashville — but was expected to miss at least two weeks from the outset.

McElwain said Del Rio will participate in practice early this week and be re-evaluated midway through it, but hinted that there’s a good chance his redshirt sophomore quarterback could play, saying that “his mindset is that he’s going to play” and noting that Del Rio has targeted this game for his return.

Beyond Del Rio, though, the news is far less rosy.

Florida’s defensive line, which played almost exclusively backups at Vanderbilt due to injuries, is likely to do something similar against the Tigers. Tackle Joey Ivie remains out, as was expected after sustaining a thumb injury expected to keep him out for a month, but end Jordan Sherit, who missed the Vanderbilt game, will get “scoped” — have arthroscopic surgery — and be out for “a little while,” per McElwain, while tackle Caleb Brantley is both “sick” and has a thumb injury, and end Bryan Cox, Jr. is hurt, but McElwain refused to say he would be out.

Brantley and Cox both played against Vanderbilt, with Cox doing so more sparingly, and it would be a bad bet that either or both won’t suit up against LSU, but the Gators’ defensive line behind its starters is largely unproven, though CeCe Jefferson — now “Carl” in McElwainese — drew praise Monday.

Elsewhere, Florida’s dealing with dings and nicks: Wide receiver and special teams gunner Chris Thompson re-aggravated a nagging hamstring injury, wideout Brandon Powell tweaked his ankle, offensive tackle David Sharpe got a “we’ll see” thanks to a shoulder injury, and linebacker Alex Anzalone will play with a splint on a thumb.

Taken together, this is bad news for a Florida team that struggled with Vanderbilt and will now face an LSU outfit coming off one of its best offensive outputs in decades — one accomplished without Leonard Fournette, who is expected to play this weekend against a team that he’s run for 320 yards against in two seasons.