UF football

Florida Gators’ changes probably won’t include Muschamp

Florida’s Will Muschamp will likely return next season, but changes in the offense will be addressed.
Florida’s Will Muschamp will likely return next season, but changes in the offense will be addressed.
John Raoux / AP

Miami Herald Writer

Florida’s historic defeat to Georgia Southern — a middling and mediocre Football Championship Subdivision team with double-digit losses to Samford, Wofford and Appalachian State — ignited a wildfire in an-already-toxic environment.

A seething Gator Nation hoped (and perhaps presumed) a seismic coaching shakeup was looming. One week before Saturday’s embarrassing loss, Florida fans were told to “get a grip,” and then the Gators dropped a home game to a FCS foe winless in 20 tries against Football Bowl Subdivision competition.

But to the dismay of a disgruntled fan base, embattled coach Will Muschamp isn’t going anywhere.

“It’s all disappointing. It’s hard to really measure it,” Muschamp said following Florida’s sixth consecutive loss. “It’s my job to get it fixed. We will get it fixed.”

Muschamp will get that chance.

Despite presiding over one of the worst defeats in school history — the Gators paid the Eagles $550,000 to come into The Swamp and humiliate a team that won 11 games just last season — UF’s third-year coach is all-but-assured to return in 2014.

UF’s 4-7 campaign, its first losing season since Jimmy Carter was president, has been effectively written off by the school’s administration because of the team’s crippling injury situation, losing 10 players to season-ending surgeries including quarterback Jeff Driskel, star defensive tackle Dominique Easley and three offense tackles.

Two weeks ago, following a then-momentous home loss to Vanderbilt, athletics director Jeremy Foley released a public vote of confidence, saying he’s “a thousand percent convinced” in Muschamp’s leadership. Despite Saturday’s harrowing defeat, the administration’s sentiment hasn’t changed, according to UF spokesman Steve McClain.

On Sunday, McClain told ESPN’s Joe Schad that Foley’s position remains resolute.

But while Muschamp will survive the tidal wave of criticism, Florida’s program remains seemingly directionless and answerless.

UF’s defense — Muschamp’s brainchild — surrendered 429 yards rushing, but for the first time all season, Muschamp lashed out at UF’s incompetent offense.

Florida’s coach called the offense’s struggles “infectious,” while distancing himself from beleaguered coordinator Brent Pease.

“You’ve also got to change the scoreboard offensively,” Muschamp said. “You’ve got to be able to change the scoreboard, and we just struggled scoring points offensively. It’s been a week-in, week-out occurrence.”

Florida’s anemic attack, ranked last in the Southeastern Conference in scoring and total offense, couldn’t muster 300 yards Saturday. The Gators haven’t topped 20 points during their six-game slide. UF has just 26 touchdowns all season, while No. 2 Florida State, next Saturday’s opponent, has 27 scores in the past three games.

“Where do you start?” Muschamp asked rhetorically. “When you give up 17 points, you hope you score 17. That’s hard right now.”

On Saturday, Florida’s offensive ineptitude was perfectly illustrated during a red-zone possession in the fourth quarter when two Gators accidently blocked each other 5 yards from the line of scrimmage.

With Foley’s backing, Muschamp is likely to overhaul Florida’s offensive staff, and Saturday’s disturbing performance made that decision even easier.

But as Florida continues to break all the wrong records under Muschamp’s leadership, questions ring loudly. A loss to a projected cupcake wasn’t the result of a few rotten eggs. Systematic changes could be in order.

“At the end of the day you take ownership with where we are,” Muschamp said. “Nobody needs to point a finger right now. It’s time to look in the mirror. I’ve told them that several times this season. Regardless of situation and circumstances, we need to produce better. That starts with me. So that’s what we’ll do.”

Read more UF stories from the Miami Herald

  • UF notebook

    Florida Gators face tough decision on whether to run QB Jeff Driskel

    It’s a hot debate in Florida staff meetings: to run or not to run quarterback Jeff Driskel.

Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel passes under pressure from Miami's David Gilbert in the fourth quarter at Sun Life Stadium in Miami, Florida, Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013.


    Florida Gators’ chance to rebound rests with QB Jeff Driskel

    Aside from embattled head coach Will Muschamp, Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel remains the most polarizing figure in Gainesville.


    A preview of SEC football teams

    Alabama is the odds-on favorite to win the Southeastern Conference for the second time in three seasons — although the media has correctly picked the league champion just six times since 1992. The South Carolina Gamecocks narrowly edged the Georgia Bulldogs as the Eastern Division favorites. Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall, Georgia tailback Todd Gurley and Alabama running back T.J. Yeldon were the preeminent picks for SEC Player of the Year.

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category