GAINESVILLE - Florida is missing all the optimism that usually comes with the start of fall practice.
The Gators will open workouts today without four offensive starters - including quarterback Jeff Driskel and running back Matt Jones (Armwood High) - 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.
"We're lucky we found it early and handled that before it got bad," Driskel said. "It could have been a lot worse."
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. "(But) nobody wants to get an opportunity like this."
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.
Muschamp was hoping Jones "ate a bad cheeseburger." Tests, though, revealed an infection.
Without Jones, Mack Brown and freshman Kelvin Taylor will share the load.
Regardless of who's running the ball, the line will be a patchwork unit to start.
Halapio has a partially torn pectoral muscle, which he injured lifting weights last week. Garcia, who sat out last season after transferring from Maryland, has not been cleared from a lingering back injury. Morrison, meanwhile, remains suspended following his second arrest of the summer.
"I'll let you know when he joins our football team," Muschamp said, later adding that the middle linebacker will return at some point during the preseason.
Morrison was arrested in June for allegedly punching a bouncer and was arrested again last month for allegedly barking at a police canine. The most recent charges, which also included resisting arrest, were dropped.