GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — No. 11 Florida could be without its most dynamic playmaker when it opens Southeastern Conference play at Kentucky.
The Gators lost elusive receiver Kadarius Toney during a 45-0 victory over lower-division Tennessee-Martin on Saturday night. Toney took a hit on his left arm late in the first quarter, walked off the field in pain and eventually headed to the locker room for tests.
Coach Dan Mullen said Toney’s injury will be “checked out a little bit more,” not exactly promising news for Florida.
The Gators also lost speedy cornerback CJ Henderson in the first half against the Skyhawks (1-1), but Mullen said he has a “slight ankle sprain.”
Henderson tweaked his left ankle while covering a receiver in the second quarter, limped into the locker room and later returned to the sideline wearing a walking boot and using crutches.
Florida barely missed either of them against UT Martin, which fell to 0-10 against SEC teams and failed to cover the 44 1/2-point spread. But the Gators know being without either standout in league play would be a crushing blow.
“It’s got to crank up about 10 notches getting into SEC play, especially going on the road,” Mullen said.
Despite missing two guys who each wear No. 1 because of their talents, Florida still manhandled overmatched UT Martin.
Feleipe Franks completed 25 of 27 passes, including 15 straight to start the game, for 270 yards and two touchdowns. He dropped in beautiful TD passes to Van Jefferson and Tyrie Cleveland, but he also was again slow through his progressions.
“I’m nowhere near perfect,” Franks said. “I just try to keep progressing. … At the end of the day, we’ve got two wins under our belt. I’m happy with that.”
The defense picked up where it left off against rival Miami , finishing with five sacks and holding the Skyhawks to 194 yards.
Florida led 38-0 early in the fourth – and had emptied its bench – when quarterback John Bachus scampered for 48 yards and gave UT Martin its best scoring opportunity. Highly touted freshman Kaiir Elam intercepted Bachus’ pass in the end zone on the ensuing play.
“I haven’t seen any stats, but the only one that matters is that we didn’t score any points,” UT Martin coach Jason Simpson said. “I’ve played against multiple SEC teams in my career. There’s been bigger (SEC) teams, but I don’t know if there’s another as fast as that one.”
UT Martin: The Skyhawks got $500,000 for making the 700-mile trip to Gainesville, the kind of payday that helps fund the school’s entire athletic department. They will bus two hours to Jacksonville, spend the night there and take a commercial flight home Sunday.
Florida: The Gators still have issues along their offensive line. They should have controlled the line of scrimmage and had their way with the Skyhawks. Instead, Franks was sacked once and hit several more times.
With ninth-ranked Texas losing, the Gators might sneak back into the top 10.
Florida honored its most famous cheerleader before the game.
George Edmondson Jr., better known as Mr. Two Bits while riling up crowds at Florida home games for 60 years, died in early July at age 97. His three grandchildren and five great-grandchildren led the renowned two-bits cheer at midfield prior to kickoff. Grandson Kevin King even used Edmondson’s original, decades-old “2 Bits” sign.
Fans, cheerleaders and game-day officials wore yellow T-shirts with a faux orange-and-blue striped tie on the front to mimic Edmondson’s typical game-day attire.
INJURIES & SUSPENSIONS
Linebacker Amari Burney and safety Jeawon Taylor missed the game because of injuries. Defensive lineman Luke Ancrum and safety Brad Stewart were suspended. Stewart also was suspended for the season opener.
UT Martin: At Southern Illinois next Saturday.
Florida: At Kentucky next Saturday. The Wildcats ended a 31-game losing streak in the series last year.