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Florida vs. Kentucky, Sunday Roundup: Marco Wilson tears ACL, Adarius Lemons to transfer

Florida lost one player early against Kentucky, and another in the wake of its loss.

Florida State v Florida Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images

Recapping the news after Florida’s 27-16 loss to Kentucky...

Wilson tears ACL, out for season

Florida Gators cornerback Marco Wilson went down in the first quarter of Saturday night’s game with an apparent knee injury, and did not return — and the injury is as bad as was feared.

Wilson’s father confirmed the injury as a torn ACL late Saturday night on Twitter.

Wilson himself addressed the injury on Sunday morning.

I’m sure that Wilson — who already returned from a torn ACL suffered during his high school career to become an elite cornerback prospect and a very good freshman at Florida — will work his ass off to get back for the beginning of the 2019 season, and possibly even for spring practice.

But for 2018, his injury robs Florida of maybe its best defender, and makes what was already a perilously thin secondary even thinner.

Lemons to transfer, seeking opportunity

Somewhat surprisingly, Florida also lost another player in the wake of its loss last night, thanks to sophomore running back Adarius Lemons announcing a transfer within an hour of the game’s end.

While that announcement was puzzling — even startling, maybe — for its timing, it does make sense when considering the scant opportunities available to Lemons at Florida, as he explained in a follow-up tweet.

Lemons, who was suspended for Florida’s first game of the year, did not get an offensive touch in his 2018 debut, and was merely adequate as a kick returner, with two returns for 47 yards. Lemons was also fourth in Florida’s running back rotatio’n in 2017, behind Lamical Perine, Malik Davis, and Mark Thompson, despite Jordan Scarlett’s season-long suspension.

Now, with Scarlett back, only Thompson gone from the rest of that rotation, and freshman Dameon Pierce seeming to have vaulted Lemons in the pecking order, there really aren’t carries available for Lemons in Dan Mullen’s offense, barring the sudden unavailability of multiple other options. And so I get him wanting to head to a program that might be able to feature him; certainly, that’s what his tweets — and his Twitter timeline as of Sunday afternoon, studded with retweets about Florida’s decisions regarding touche — suggests his transfer is about.

But it’s worth remembering that Lemons also briefly flirted with parting ways with Florida in a tweet sent last year, and that he was recruited by Jim McElwain’s staff — to the surprise of some, given a checkered high school career featuring multiple stops and some academic nonchalance — at a time when Scarlett, Perine, and Thompson were all on the roster, and with Davis coming in alongside him.

And while there are reasons to question some of Florida’s decisions regarding touches so far this fall, it strains credulity to think that Lemons is a secret weapon on the Gators’ bench capable of much more than what Florida’s backs who have played have given. Most likely, he’s the fourth- or fifth-string option in a backfield with four to six good ones, recognizes that, and is keen to be a No. 1 or No. 2 back elsewhere.

That’s fine, and Lemons transferring now rather than later is also fine — it’s smart, even, given that he should be able to transfer and keep three years of eligibility thanks to new redshirt rules. But it should also not be seen as a reflection of some dire state for Florida after an unexpected loss to Kentucky, and it’s valid to note that Lemons choosing to announce his transfer with that loss still fresh on the minds of not just fans but everyone in Florida’s program may be a detail that other coaches remember when evaluating the person they will be recruiting.

Mullen defers to SEC on field goal call

Florida seemed to have three points in the bag in the late third quarter as a towering Evan McPherson field goal appeared to bend just inside the right goal post. But a referee called the kick, which sent the ball almost immediately above that goal post, no good, and so Florida entered the fourth quarter trailing by two possessions rather than one.

Asked about the field goal after the game, Mullen punted.

As Graham Hall of The Gainesville Sun explained in a Sunday article, though, NCAA rules prohibit the review of field goals unless the ball is within the height of the goal posts — an obvious issue for kicks like McPherson’s that soar over the tops of them — and a similar issue in the NFL led to Bill Belichick getting the league to extend its goal posts another five feet to avoid questions about whether the highest kicks are good ones.

The NCAA does not make its money off of Football Bowl Subdivision football, but many athletic conferences and programs do — and Florida, one of the wealthiest programs in arguably the most powerful conference in college athletics, would seem to be well-positioned to argue for a similar change.

Franks gives non-explanation on two-pointer

Maybe the most frustrating single play for Florida on Saturday night was a failed attempt to draw within a field goal on a two-point conversion late in the fourth quarter. As Malik Davis flared out of the backfield to the right of Feleipe Franks and into clear air in the end zone, Franks appeared on video to look his way and opt not to throw him the ball, instead waiting for tight end C’yontai Lewis to break for the opposite back corner of the end zone and lofting a pass that Lewis could not haul in.

The failure left Florida trailing by five at 21-16, and locked the Gators into having to get a stop and drive for a touchdown instead of a field goal.

Asked about that decision after the game, Franks gave an answer that, to me, reads as dismissive and defensive in text form.

It’s up to you to decide whether that comes off the same way in the video, but by not addressing what seemed like a substantial error he made head-on — or, worse, by not realizing that error — Franks has given his critics a powerful piece of evidence likely to be used as a cudgel as the season progresses.

Copeland says cousin was killed

In significantly more somber news than a football loss, though: Florida freshman Jacob Copeland tweeted late Saturday that a cousin of his was killed on the night.

Copeland is from Pensacola, and grew up in relatively unsafe conditions — his moving commitment video features “a childhood home with a windows pockmarked by bullet holes.” He is also currently injured, and not expected to play a significant role in Florida’s 2018 season.

My thoughts and best wishes go out to Copeland and those close to him.