Notebook: 2 UF players miss practice


In this file photo, Florida's Jeff Demps runs upfield on a long gain during the first half against Tennessee in Gainesville, Fla., Sept. 17, 2011.

Doug Finger/Staff photographer
Published: Tuesday, December 27, 2011 at 7:49 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, December 27, 2011 at 7:49 p.m.

Two notable offensive players were missing from Florida's first Gator Bowl practice Tuesday, but both are expected to return today.

Tailback Jeff Demps had a personal matter he was dealing with Tuesday and did not practice, while starting wide receiver Deonte Thompson was sick and back at the team hotel.




“(Demps) will be here in the morning,” UF coach Will Muschamp said. “Thompson is a little sick, missed practice and is back at the hotel.”

Other than Demps and Thompson, all the players were present for the first practice.

“Everyone is here and accounted for,” Muschamp said. “We did a good job academically (in the fall). I'm proud of our players. We had no issues (academically).”

Wenger, McCray hobbled

Starting center Dan Wenger continues to limp on a sprained ankle, while starting outside linebacker Lerentee McCray's injured shoulder may prevent him from playing in the Jan. 2 game.

“Dan is still struggling,” Muschamp said. “He got some reps there in Gainesville and just has been hobbled by it.

“Lerentee again with the shoulder. We've exhausted about every measure we can as far as the shoulder's concerned trying to work and get total range of motion and strength back. It just has not come back at this point.

“(McCray) is probably doubtful for the game. I would expect Dan to play, though, at this time.”

Muschamp said starting quarterback John Brantley has recovered from his sprained ankle and a concussion and is good to go for the game.

Muschamp has spoken to Meyer

Muschamp said he's talked to former UF coach Urban Meyer since Meyer accepted the head coaching position at Ohio State.

“Uh, yeah, a couple times,” Muschamp said. “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.”

Muschamp was asked it if felt odd having the specter of Meyer hovering over the Gator Bowl

“I did it last year,” he said. “It's different. It is what it is.”

Some history with the Buckeyes

This will not be the first time Muschamp has coached against Ohio State. He was the defensive coordinator at Texas when the Longhorns played the Buckeyes in the 2009 Fiesta Bowl.

The Buckeyes threw Muschamp an unexpected curveball when they came out and played two different quarterbacks for the first time that season.

“Yeah, I remember,” Muschamp said Tuesday.

Texas won the game 24-21.

Muschamp said he's sure both sides will have to make adjustments once the Gators Bowl game gets under way Monday.

“There will be some differences as far as some different things you're going to see in the game,” he said. “That was something that was a nice wrinkle that they went to on that first drive (in the Fiesta Bowl).

“You've just got to adjust in the game and rely on your package, let your players adjust things out, know that you're going to face a wrinkle or two that you haven't seen.

“(Ohio State) has had too much time to think about different plays and different defenses and different things to look at. Hopefully, we'll have different things for them to adjust to as well.”

Welcome to Aggieland

Although it does not become official until this morning with the release of the 2012 SEC schedule, it's pretty much common knowledge that Florida will travel to Texas A&M in the second week of the season in the Aggies' SEC debut.

Having coached at Texas, Muschamp knows all about the Aggies and their 12th Man.

“At Kyle Field, they do a nice job there,” he said. “It's a very SEC-like atmosphere as far as their support is concerned. They have a great tradition playing there at home.”

Howard's end a happy one?

Muschamp spent several minutes Tuesday talking about the many young players who have made such a big contribution on defense this season. He also mentioned one of the older guys -- senior tackle Jaye Howard, who will be playing his last game for the Gators on Monday.

“I thought Jaye played well (this season),” Muschamp said. “Jaye's played himself into a decent situation there for April (in the NFL Draft). He's played well. He's played blocks well. You talk to a lot of the people who played us, they all compliment how he's played, how much better he's played. His pad level, his hustle to the ball and finishing plays. He's done a nice job.”

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