GAINESVILLE — Think about where the Gators had some of their worst performances this past football season and the offensive line quickly comes to mind. Message boards and fan emails questioned all season whether changes were needed. Coach Will Muschamp apparently had similar thoughts.
On Monday, Muschamp hired veteran coach Tim Davis as offensive line coach. He replaces Frank Verducci, who was quietly dismissed this past weekend. Officially, Florida said Verducci, who has coached for three decades, left to "pursue other interests."
Davis, who has more than 25 years of coaching experience, nine with current members of the Gator coaching staff, joins the program after spending this past season as O-line coach at his alma mater Utah.
"Tim is a perfect fit for our program," Muschamp said. "He has a history of coaching in a pro-style offense and shares the same program philosophies. It will be a seamless transition for our players and staff."
Davis, 53, began his career in 1981 and has coached in the Big Ten, Pac-10 (and Pac-12), SEC, the NFL and 15 bowl games and been a part of two national championship teams.
INJURY PLAGUED: After going 0-2 last week, the men's basketball team dropped from No. 8 to 14th in the AP poll and will have serious depth problems for at least its next two games, both on the road. The Gators are without G Mike Rosario (hip pointer) and sophomore F Will Yeguete (concussion). Sophomore F Cody Larson will be limited, recovering from the flu. Yeguete suffered his second concussion of the season (the first at Ohio State) on Saturday and has passed just two of the required five tests to be medically cleared to return. Coach Billy Donovan said Yeguete was briefly unconscious on the court.
"I don't think he's having any symptoms where he's sick or he's just dizzy all the time," Donovan said. "I think he feels okay, but he's not passing these tests. And I think three of the tests, he's not really showing any signs that he's close to passing them. So this could be a couple of weeks, could be a week, could be three weeks. I would say right now where his symptoms are at, I feel pretty confident that he'll be out for this entire week."
The Gators will play at Alabama tonight hoping to make due with what they have.
"Dire is probably a pretty good word" to describe the frontcourt situation, Donovan said. "We're going to have to do some different things, both offensively and defensively. Certainly going into Alabama, there's a tremendous void there for us defensively at the basket."
Donovan said he may put rarely used F Casey Prather and guard Scottie Wilbekin at the power forward position at times.
"You can't really be too worried about it, we just have to make do with what we have right now," Wilbekin said. "It's tough going against guys that are that much bigger, stronger and taller than me, but I've just got to work that much harder."
CHAMPIONSHIP PREDICTION: SEC coaches picked the Gator baseball team to repeat as league champions in the preseason poll. Florida is No. 1 in the four major preseason polls.
Antonya English can be reached at [email protected]