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Florida to open fall practice without 5 starters

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 1, 2013 at 6:44 pm •  Published: August 1, 2013

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Florida is missing all the optimism that usually comes with the start of fall practice.

The Gators will open workouts Friday without four offensive starters — including quarterback Jeff Driskel and running back Matt Jones — and have no timetable for reinstating suspended linebacker Antonio Morrison.

Guards Jon Halapio (pectoral) and Max Garcia (back) won't be on the field, either.

"Things like this are going to happen during the season, and it's good that we're hitting adversity right now in the beginning of training camp so we can be ready for situations like this," Halapio said Thursday during the team's annual media day.

Driskel had an appendectomy Tuesday, but coach Will Muschamp said he should be back within two weeks. The second-year starter had a stomach ache Sunday, thought little about it, but started getting concerned when it returned Monday. His roommate suggested getting it checked out, so Driskel did some research and then approached team doctors.

"We're lucky we found it early and handled that before it got bad," Driskel said. "It could have been a lot worse."

Driskel has been "taking it easy" and doesn't plan to do much until he's medically cleared.

"It's definitely frustrating," he said. "But injuries happen. It's part of life. I'm starting to feel better already. ... Recovery time, they said it varies for everybody. We're not going to rush anything. But I don't think I'm going to miss too much. I'll be there getting the mental reps. I'll be right there behind the huddle. We've done a lot of work in the summer, so when I get back, I'm hoping we don't miss too much."

Fourth-year junior Tyler Murphy, who hasn't thrown a pass in three games, will get repetitions with the first-team offense during Driskel's absence.

"I've been waiting for this opportunity since I got here," Murphy said. "Nobody wants to get an opportunity like this. Of course, I would rather me and Jeff both be out there lining up and I would rather beat him out that way. ... My goal is to take advantage of the reps I get, and hopefully when Jeff gets back, I can stir up some problems in the coaches' office, where they may consider me."

Murphy won't have Jones in the backfield with him.

Jones, who ran 19 times for 162 yards in the final three games last season and had been expected to be an integral part of the offense, complained of side pain earlier in the week. Tests revealed an undisclosed viral infection that has him sidelined indefinitely. Teammates said the 226-pound back has lost considerable weight.

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