Commentary

Florida-FSU game plagued by injuries

Gators' Senior Day sees several players knocked out of the game

Updated: November 30, 2011, 1:04 PM ET
By Jeff Barlis | GatorNation

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Hyper intensity, bone-jarring hits and just plain hatred are hallmarks of the annual Florida-Florida State game. On Saturday, many of the collisions resulted in injuries.

[+] EnlargeJohn Brantley
AP Photo/Phil SandlinSenior quarterback John Brantley's night, and his final regular season, ended early Saturday night.
Quarterback John Brantley left the game late in the second quarter after taking a helmet to the chin from FSU defensive end Brandon Jenkins, who also left the game with a concussion. Brantley appeared woozy and was led to the locker room by medical staff.

The Gators' starting quarterback, who has dealt with injuries to his ankle and throwing arm this season, said earlier in the week he was about 90 percent. His injury was particularly hard on the fragile psyche of the Gators.

"I hurt for him," head coach Will Muschamp said. "Regardless of whether he's a senior or not, it's when someone gets hurt. Whenever you see someone struggle to finish or not finish the game, especially if they're a senior, and it's their last game (at home), it's hard."

Even more troubling was the injury to sophomore linebacker Darrin Kitchens, who was hurt on the second-half kickoff return coverage. He was immobilized on a backboard and carted off, while giving a thumbs-up and talking to the medical staff.

Gators sophomore defensive tackle Dominique Easley also was carted off the field early in the second quarter after he was unable to put weight on his left knee and was helped off the field by the medical staff.

Senior running back Chris Rainey suffered a hip injury in the fourth quarter and did not return.

Offensive lineman Kyle Koehne injured his right knee in the second quarter and did not return. Right guard Jon Halapio left the game late in the fourth quarter with an apparent back injury.

Starting tight end Jordan Reed, who had dealt with a sprained ankle throughout much of the season, did not play. He missed much of the Gators' last game against Furman and some practice time this past week.

"Jordan Reed was not able to put weight on his ankle enough to do anything sustainable," Muschamp said.

Reed's replacement, freshman A.C. Leonard, also left the game with an injury in the second half. He had career-best three catches for 65 yards.

Senior day

[+] EnlargeChris Rainey
Kim Klement/US PresswireChris Rainey gave the home crowd a thrill with a backflip during player introductions, but he left the game in the second half with a hip injury.
A large line of players' parents greeted the seniors, who were introduced before their final home game in The Swamp. Strangely, head coach Will Muschamp was not on the field. He was standing in the tunnel, hugging each senior and sending them out for introdcutions.

The loudest cheers were for Florida's 12 scholarship seniors. Rainey gave the crowd a jolt when he did a backflip after his introduction.

Extra points
• The announced attendance was 90,798, fifth all-time in the history of Ben Hill Grififn Stadium. The announced attendance was well over The Swamp's official capacity of 88,548. Still, it was hardly a packed house, as there were plenty of empty seats scattered throughout the stadium.

• George "Mr. Two Bits" Edmondson, wearing his trademark yellow shirt, Gator tie and seersucker pants, made a special appearance to do his signature two-bits cheer before the game. Edmondson officially retired in 2008 and had not returned to Florida Field to do his cheer since. He received thunderous applause.

• FSU cornerback Greg Reid received a tongue-lashing from head coach Jimbo Fisher late in the fourth quarter. Reid drew an unsportsmanlike penalty for leaving the sideline to confront Florida's Matt Elam, who had drawn an unsportsmanlike penalty of his own for throwing a Seminoles receiver to the ground out of bounds. The penalties were offsetting.

• Redshirt freshman offensive tackle Chaz Green returned to the field and the starting lineup after missing four games with an ankle injury. Senior offensive lineman James Wilson replaced senior Dan Wenger at left guard midway through the game.

• Sophomore defensive lineman Sharrif Floyd shifted from defensive end to his more natural defensive tackle position after Easley left the game. Floyd made an impact with six tackles. The Gators had a season-high 13 tackles for loss for 76 yards. Florida also tied a season high with four sacks.

• Former Gators on the sideline included Mike Pouncey, whose Miami Dolphins played on Thanksgiving, Ray Criswell, Judd Davis, Brandon Hicks, Ryan Stamper, Henry MicMillan, Terron Sanders, Lutrell Alford, Brandon Antwine, O.J. Small, James Smith and James Speer.

• Florida's captains were all seniors -- Rainey, Brantley, defensive tackle Jaye Howard and defensive end William Green.

Jeff Barlis is editor and writer for GatorNation. He can be reached at jeffbarlis.espn@gmail.com or on Twitter @JeffBarlisESPN.