Gators open bowl practice without Demps, Thompson

Associated Press  |  Last updated December 27, 2011
Florida arrived at the Gator Bowl without running back Jeff Demps and still searching for two key positions on Will Muschamp's coaching staff. Demps missed the team's first practice Tuesday at Jacksonville University to attend to a personal matter, Muschamp said. Second on the team with 539 yards rushing and a team-high six touchdowns, Demps is expected to join the Gators on Wednesday. Receiver Deonte Thompson missed practice because of an illness. Center Dan Wenger and linebacker Lerentee McCray were limited in practice. Muschamp expected Wenger (ankle) to play Jan. 2 against Ohio State, but called McCray (shoulder) doubtful. Muschamp also denied reports by two coaching websites that he has hired Jeff Dillman to be the team's strength and conditioning coordinator. Muschamp and Dillman worked together at LSU in 2003 and 2004. Dillman is currently the head of physical conditioning at the IMG Performance Institute in Bradenton, a position he has held since 2009. But Muschamp said he hasn't offered the job to anyone, adding that the same goes for the offensive coordinator position. ''I haven't hired anybody,'' he said. ''I've talked to a lot of people at the strength position and the offensive coordinator's position. When I make the hire, everybody will know. But no one has been hired. No one has been offered a job yet. So, that's it.'' Former strength coach Mickey Marotti left Florida after seven years to join Urban Meyer at Ohio State. Former offensive coordinator Charlie Weis left to take the head coaching job at Kansas. ''I still have people I want to talk to,'' Muschamp said. ''I've talked to probably six, seven eight people so far. Again some people over Christmas. Some people this week I plan on talking to. Then after the bowl game. I've never put a timetable on it because it's the right fit for Florida; it's going to be the best decision for Florida. It's an important hire, both of them are. I've talked to multiple people on both situations.'' Running backs coach Brian White will call plays against the Buckeyes, and Muschamp reiterated that he is being considered for the job on a full-time basis. White has been an offensive coordinator at Wisconsin and Syracuse. ''I don't think there's any question that being a play-caller for a long time, to have somebody in the room who has done it before,'' Muschamp said. ''Everyone has great ideas until they've sat in that chair. Then they understand the difference. They see the big picture. They understand all the things that go with running an offense or running a defense. No question his experience was very critical in our growth as an offense as we move forward.''
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