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Wednesday March 27, 2013 Gators notebook: O-Line injuries reach critical stage, Muschamp on Billy D, Marcus Roberson

Updated: 10:47am, March 27

Tyler Moore

Gators offensive lineman Tyler Moore (No. 73) has made a good impression on UF's injury-plagued line.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The way things have been going for the Gators offensive line, seeing Max Garcia back at practice Monday had to be a relief for Florida coach Will Muschamp.

Slowed by a sore back, Garcia is the latest UF lineman to spend time watching instead of playing this spring.

Garcia appeared in good spirits Tuesday when he met with the media for the first time at UF, downplaying any concerns about his back.

"It was fine,'' he said. "It's just natural wear-and-tear of the body, an O-line thing, going hard every day."

As for some of Garcia's mates in the trenches, the news is not as promising.

Muschamp announced Tuesday that Trip Thurman, who has been backing up D.J. Humphries at left tackle, is the latest offensive lineman unable to play. Thurman has a shoulder injury and the Gators expected to get results of the MRI sometime Tuesday evening.

"It does not look good right now,'' Muschamp said. "Trip has had an outstanding spring and has really made some progress.”

Thurman was part of Muschamp's first recruiting class in 2011 and redshirted after shoulder surgery. He appeared in three games last season and figures prominently into the plans next season if healthy.

However, that is now in question.

Thurman joins offensive linemen Ian Silberman (shoulder surgery), Chaz Green (ankle) and Jon Halapio (knee) on the injury list.

Halapio is working in individual drills but has yet to be cleared to participate in 11-on-11 drills this spring according to Muschamp. The Gators are also without guard Jessamen Dunker, who is suspended this spring for off-the-field issues.

Fortunately, Humphries, center Jon Harrison and tackles Tyler Moore and Quinteze Williams are healthy, as is versatile Kyle Koehne, who is versatile enough to play all five positions on the line.

“I feel very strong with where we are on the offensive line,'' Muschamp said. "We’ve got some injuries, but Max Garcia and Tyler Moore are two good pickups for us. Both of those guys are good football players.”

Still, six healthy offensive linemen out of 11 on scholarship this spring is not enough. To compensate, Muschamp expects to tweak the format of the Orange & Blue Debut spring game on April 6.

Instead of a traditional scrimmage, Muschamp said the Gators will probably reduce the number of scrimmage snaps to ensure the healthy offensive line aren't overworked in the spring game.

"It’s just tough on those guys,'' Muschamp said. "It may be more of a practice-like atmosphere. We’ll have scrimmage snaps, but we may incorporate within that. What’s hard for the offensive line is taking 60 straight snaps."

INJURY REPORT

Muschamp said freshman receiver Demarcus Robinson (high-ankle sprain) has missed time recently. "I’m not real sure when we will get him back. He’s in a walking boot trying to stabilized that. Probably next week I hope,'' Muschamp said. ... Defensive lineman Jonathan Bullard (hamstring), linebacker Neiron Ball (ankle) and defensive back Cody Riggs (hamstring) are also limited right now according to Muschamp.

ROOTING FOR BILLY D'S GATORS

Billy Donovan

Muschamp said he watched the Florida men's basketball team defeat Minnesota on Sunday night to advance to the Sweet 16 for a school-record third consecutive season.

He plans to do the same on Friday when the Gators face Florida Gulf Coast University in Arlington, Texas, for a berth in the Elite Eight.

"Certainly will be pulling hard for them,'' Muschamp said. "

 While Gators coach Billy Donovan is the dean of SEC coaches -- he is in his 17th season at Florida -- Muschamp is in his third season leading Florida's football program. He is the fourth Florida football coach during Donovan's tenure.

Muschamp has quickly developed a deep respect for Donovan.

"With what he has done at Florida, I would say Billy Donovan is as good – not just basketball coach – a college coach there is in the nation,'' Muschamp said. "Everyone wants to point at the two national championships, but he has put Florida at an elite status, a relevant status in college basketball, which never was before.”

QUOTE OF NOTE I

“I think he is playing his best football. He’s playing very square on blocks, he’s doing a nice job of anchoring and playing the double teams and keeping his gap.” -- Muschamp on senior defensive tackle Damien Jacobs

QUOTE OF NOTE II

“He’s changed his upper body. He’s gotten stronger and he’s better on the line of scrimmage in press, he’s more disruptive.” -- Muschamp on junior cornerback Marcus Roberson, who has added weight and is up to around 193 to 194 pounds

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