BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – South Carolina coach Will Muschamp said Monday all players are accounted for in Birmingham for the Birmingham Bowl.
The coaching staff is a different story. Interim offensive line coach John Latina was not on hand for Monday’s practice at Birmingham Southern College and he won’t be at practice Tuesday either.
“I think he gets in tomorrow night,” senior offensive tackle Mason Zandi said. “I think he had some family obligations prior to him even being asked to be a coach. I’m a family-first kinda guy, so he needs to take care of business.”
A South Carolina spokesperson said Muschamp knew of Latina’s commitment when he brought on the former Ole Miss and Duke offensive line coach to fill the vacancy for bowl prep and Thursday’s Birmingham Bowl. The Gamecocks plan to hire a full-time offensive line coach bowl season and in the new year.
Offensive graduate assistant Landon Martin worked with the offensive line Monday. Martin finished his playing career at Newberry College last year and was brought onto the South Carolina staff by former grad assistant Cedric Williams.
“He knows everything,” offensive tackle Malik Young said. “He played offensive line. He literally just got out of playing offensive line last year.”
Zandi, who praised Latina a week ago for his “top-notch” knowledge, again pointed to Latina’s long history as a football coach and said he has learned a few new techniques as the Gamecocks prepare to face South Florida.
“The man has been around football for such a long time,” Zandi said. “He has been around football for such a long time. When you get someone with that much knowledge and that much wisdom and understanding of the game, you try to soak it all and understand that he has seen a lot of football – a lot more than I have.”