Florida announced defensive tackle Dominique Easley will be out for the season after he tore his ACL and medial meniscus in practice Tuesday night.
Easley has been a crucial part of Florida's stellar defense. He has racked up 67 career tackles, 5.5 sacks, a blocked punt and a fumble recovery, and his presence in disrupting opposing offenses has been significant. He was projected to be a high pick in April's NFL Draft.
Defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin said freshmen Jay-nard Bostwick and Joey Ivie or redshirt freshman Bryan Cox could step up and fill the gap at tackle, though. He said he's confident any one of his players could perform well.
“At every position in our defense, we have a pretty healthy rotation,” Durkin said. “It's obviously part of the game. It's nothing you want to happen to anyone at any position, but we plan for that everywhere and that's why we play a lot of guys.”
The Gators defense leads the Southeastern Conference and ranks third nationally in total defense. Florida also ranks first in the country in third-down defense, allowing only 19 percent (7-for-37) of third-down conversions and no more than 220 total yards from any of its three opponents so far.
Looking forward to Kentucky, Durkin said the Wildcats present an interesting challenge with its two-quarterback system. Kentucky has played both Maxwell Smith and Jalen Whitlow in its first three games. The two sophomores alternated 17 times during a 41-7 win over Miami (Ohio) on Sept. 7.
“I think both guys have maybe a different skill set but a strong skill set. They both look like they're executing what they want them to do on offense. They've been able to move the ball and do well.