Head coach Will Muschamp met with the media Tuesday to answer some questions and look ahead to the Florida Gators‘ next opponent, the Ohio State Buckeyes. Florida and Ohio State will go head-to-head in the 2011 Gator Bowl at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, FL on Jan. 2 at 1 p.m. Below are some of the most important notes and quotes from Tuesday’s availability.
INJURIES AND ABSENCES
Four Florida starters were notable absent or hobbled during the team’s first practice since Christmas break on Monday. Muschamp explained that senior running back Jeff Demps had a “personal matter” to attend to and will be with the team Tuesday morning. Additionally, redshirt senior wide receiver Deonte Thompson was missing from the field due to being stuck in the hotel with an illness.
Two Gators – redshirt senior offensive lineman Dan Wenger (ankle) and redshirt junior Sam linebacker Lerentee McCray – are injured heading into the game. Wenger is “still struggling,” according to Muschamp, who said that he took some practice reps in Gainesville, FL and is expected to play in the game. McCray, on the other hand, is doubtful for the contest with a bad shoulder. “We’ve exhausted about every measure we can as far as the shoulder is concerned, trying to work to get total range of motion and strength back,” he said.
NO JOBS OFFERED, NO HIRINGS COMPLETED
Despite a report that Muschamp has zeroed in on his next director of strength and conditioning, the coach said Tuesday that nothing could be further from the truth at this time. “I haven’t hired anybody. I’ve talked to a lot of people at the strength position and the offensive coordinator position, and when I make the hire everybody will know,” he said. “No one has been hired. No one has been offered a job yet. So that’s it.”
The primary reason Muschamp indicated for not having made a hire is that he is not done with the interview process. Though he has spoken with a number of candidates for both positions, he plans to continue doing so throughout the week and insisted that Florida will not make an announcement until after the bowl game.
“I still have people I want to talk to. I’ve talked to probably six, seven, eight people so far and some people over Christmas and some people this week I plan to talk to and then after the bowl game,” he said. “I’ve never put a timetable on it because it’s [what is] the right fit for Florida. It’s going to be the best decision for Florida. It’s an important hire – obviously both of them are – and I’ve talked to multiple people [for] both situations.”
“I know he’s a good football coach, and he’s just reassured my confidence in him as a football coach. He’s done a nice job of preparing our football team. It’s all about situational football and being prepared for situations when they occur in the game. As a playcaller, he’s got a knack for that,” he said.
“I don’t think there’s any question that being a playcaller for a long time, to have somebody in the room that has done it before [is a positive]. Everybody’s got great ideas until they’ve sat in that chair, and then they understand the difference and see the big picture. They understand all the things that go with running an offense or running a defense. There’s no question that his experience, I thought, was very critical in our growth as an offense to be a part of our offense as we move forward.”
NOTES AND QUOTES
» Muschamp said the team spent the first 4-5 days of bowl practice working on fundamental football and used the final four before Christmas break doing normal game week preparation. He decided to have Florida run, stretch and once again familiarize themselves with the game plan because there is an extra day of preparation.
» On the 2011 season as a whole: “It’s been a disappointing season from the standpoint of what our record is. It’s been very frustrating. It is what it is at the end of the day. We need to prepare well for this football game. We’re playing a good football team, and we need to play well.”
» On redshirt senior defensive tackle Jaye Howard’s play this season: “I thought Jaye played well. Jaye’s played himself into a decent situation there for April. He really has. He’s played well. He’s played blocks well. You talk to a lot of the people who’ve played us, they all compliment how he’s played and how much better he’s played, his pad level, his hustle to the ball, finishing plays. He’s done a nice job.”
» On if he’s spoken to Urban Meyer since he took the Ohio State job: “A couple times, more than anything about hiring coaches and stuff that he was looking at. He called for my opinion on a couple and that was about it.”