Florida's defense may be shorthanded

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- One of the biggest storylines in the Florida-Mississippi State game on Saturday night may end up being how many of their injured defenders the Gators are able to get on the field.

Middle linebacker Brandon Spikes and tackles Jaye Howard and Lawrence Marsh are all iffy and didn't practice much this week. Tackle Justin Trattou (torn biceps) is definitely out, and Florida coach Urban Meyer said Howard (knee) and Marsh (ankle) are both doubtful.

Spikes missed most of the Arkansas game last week with a groin injury. The Gators missed his productivity and leadership. The players on that side of the ball will all tell you that they typically go as Spikes goes.

Here's the other thing: When you're going against Mississippi State bruising running back Anthony Dixon, the last place you want to be shorthanded is the middle of your defense.