Notebook: McCarney has fond memories of his USF days

Published: Wednesday, September 8, 2010 at 7:23 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, September 8, 2010 at 7:23 p.m.

When Florida defensive line coach Dan McCarney steps onto Florida Field and looks across at his old team, he said it won't feel weird.

McCarney spent 2007 as defensive line coach at South Florida — a season in which the Bulls climbed to No. 2 in the BCS standings and finished the year 9-4. McCarney said it'll be nice to see some familiar faces, but he won't get caught up with coaching against his old team.

"I know they're a tremendous team and we better bring our "A" game because anything less than that and we could be in trouble," McCarney said Wednesday morning.

McCarney made the move to USF in 2007 after being the head coach at Iowa State for 12 years. As USF's defensive line coach, the Bulls ranked third nationally with 8.69 tackles for loss per game.

McCarney insists there won't be any distractions Saturday, but he's excited to see former coaching partner Todd Fitch, USF's offensive coordinator/running backs coach. Fitch was McCarney's quarterbacks coach at Iowa State from 2004-06, but he and McCarney shard a much stronger bond. McCarney said he stuck by Fitch while he battled and beat testicular cancer.

The fight Fitch showed then is something McCarney said he's seen instilled in USF's backfield.

"I saw the mental toughness of Todd Fitch and it looks like his players are playing with that same attitude he has," McCarney said.

In January, McCarney's name resurfaced with the Bulls when former coach Jim Leavitt was fired. USF hired former East Carolina coach Skip Holtz, whom McCarney called a "great choice."

McCarney hasn't kept up with his former boss, Leavitt, but said he appreciated the opportunity he gave him at USF.

"We had a great run," he said. "I had a great time winning nine regular-season games and had a fabulous year in Tampa."

Injury update

Urban Meyer said during the SEC conference call Wednesday that backup center Sam Robey is 100 percent healthy and is expected to play some Saturday.

"He's had injuries all through training camp with a knee (injury) and then he had bursitis in his elbow," Meyer said.

Sophomore left tackle Xavier Nixon (knee) could return as well after a "very positive" week of practice, Meyer said.

Senior Maurice Hurt said he expects to start at right tackle again even if Nixon returns.

"As of of right now, I'm going to be starting at right tackle," Hurt said.

Senior defensive tackles Terron Sanders (knee) and Lawrence Marsh (hamstring) are also healthy, Meyer said.

Redshirt sophomore offensive tackle Matt Patchan (wrist) is now expected out "a few weeks," Meyer said, and is still wearing a long cast on his arm.

"We wish we had him because he's such an intense player, good player," he said.

Blocking adjustments

To improve on last Saturday's poor perimeter blocking, redshirt sophomore Omarius Hines said the receivers have gone through extra blocking since Sunday. The receivers had a longer blocking session Tuesday, working against receivers andcornerbacks.

Junior corner Janoris Jenkins said the receivers are keeping their hands more inside and are gripping tighter. He singled out Deonte Thompson, Frankie Hammond Jr. and Carl Moore as the top blockers.

"We've got to be able to block on the perimeter in order to be successful and have big plays," Hines said.

Extra points

Former Gators quarterback Tim Tebow is now on Twitter. You can follow him at @TimTebow. He also started a Web site: ... Redshirt freshman linebacker Jelani Jenkins said the middle linebacker spot hasn't been set and he and sophomore Jon Bostic are sharing reps. "We're still rotating between different packages," he said. "I don't think it's set right now." ... Hines said Hammond is practicing at every receiver spot and is excited to see him play Saturday. "I'm glad to have him back," he said.

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