GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Two days after defensive tackle Leon Orr was sent home because he was unhappy he wasn’t in the starting lineup at Vanderbilt, Gators coach Will Muschamp said Orr will not be rejoining the program.
"Nothing has changed," Muschamp said.
Asked a follow-up question about whether there was anything Orr could do to get back on the team, Muschamp replied, "no."
Senior center Max Garcia said Orr’s departure on Saturday prior to Florida’s 34-10 victory "kind of struck me off-guard."
"He’s been in the program for a very long time," Garcia said of the fifth-year senior from New Port Richey, Fla. "I thought we were getting to a point where I saw him maturing a lot and he wasn’t doing the same things that he was doing last year. He was really developing as a person.
"But Muschamp is Muschamp and he’s not going to tolerate putting himself above the team. It’s unfortunate that that happened. We’re going to miss him because he was a big part of this team, but we’re just going to move forward and young guys are just going to have to step up."
Meanwhile, Orr has posted several messages on social media hinting at remorse for leaving the team but it appears the damage was done in Nashville. "He left our football team on game day," Muschamp said after the game.
Starting safety Keanu Neal continues to nurse a high-ankle sprain suffered in the Georgia victory and is considered doubtful for Saturday’s game against South Carolina. "We’re hoping to get him out there maybe Wednesday," Muschamp said. "But he looks doubtful at this time."
Muschamp said he is hopeful offensive lineman Trenton Brown (knee) might also return to practice Wednesday. Brown was hurt against Georgia and missed Saturday’s game too.
As for injuries sustained against the Commodores, offensive lineman Tyler Moore (ankle), offensive lineman Chaz Green (knee) are expected to play against South Carolina. Linebacker Jeremi Powell suffered a sprained knee and is doubtful. Lastly, defensive lineman Gerald Willis (foot) missed the Vanderbilt game but is expected to play Saturday according to Muschamp.
Senior wide receiver Quinton Dunbar’s four catches for 97 yards marked his first catches since the Tennessee game; Dunbar’s three-game stretch without a catch followed his 32 consecutives games with one.
Dunbar recently fell behind sophomore Ahmad Fulwood on the depth chart.
"He dealt with it very well," Muschamp said. "We weren’t getting the production we needed and Ahmad had been a guy that had done a nice job getting those opportunities. Ahmad should be fine Saturday, had a little turf toe in the game on the deep ball down their sideline and Quinton went in and did a good job.
"So you go in and cash in on your opportunities when you have it. Man down, man up and that’s what he did."
Fulwood had Florida’s biggest catch of the game (a 48-yarder) prior to Dunbar hauling in a 60-yard reception in the fourth quarter.
The secondary was the biggest question mark for Florida’s defense entering the season. Led by sophomore cornerback Vernon Hargreaves, the unit had talent but not much experience.
It has more experience now. And some big plays such as the one-handed interception by true freshman Jalen Tabor against Vanderbilt.
Tabor is one of three true freshmen playing regularly, joining cornerback Quincy Wilson and safety Duke Dawson.
Muschamp likes what he has seen from the trio.
"Quincy and Jalen, I’ve been very pleased with what they’ve done and how they’ve produced and improved and gotten better all the time," he said. "From a mental standpoint, we put a lot more on our safeties. I thought Duke did a great job Saturday communicating and being on the same page with the other safeties.
"Duke is extremely talented. He’s like Jaylen Watkins. He can play corner, he can play safety, he can play nickel. But you got to make sure you’re not giving him too much in those situations. He’s got a huge future here at Florida."
Quarterback Treon Harris passed for 215 yards in the victory over Vanderbilt, the most by a UF freshman quarterback since Chris Leak passed for 268 yards in the 2004 Outback Bowl against Iowa … Florida’s win at Vanderbilt snapped the Commodores’ 10-game winning streak in November games; Vanderbilt had not lost a November game since a 27-21 overtime loss to Tennessee in 2011 … Harris’ 215 yards passing were the most by a Florida quarterback in an SEC road game since Jeff Driskel threw for 219 in a victory at Tennessee in 2012 … In back-to-back wins over Georgia and Vanderbilt, the Gators have committed just one turnover; UF had 15 turnovers in the previous four games, losing three … Florida improved to 24-4 under Muschamp when winning the turnover battle.