10/27: Muschamp previews Florida-Georgia, talks Harris starting, Gators offensive issues

By Adam Silverstein
October 27, 2014

Head coach Will Muschamp of the Florida Gators (3-3, 2-3 SEC) met with the media on Monday as his team continues to recover from consecutive losses while preparing for the No. 9 Georgia Bulldogs (6-1, 4-1 SEC) on Saturday afternoon. Florida-Georgia will play in the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. with the game once again airing live on CBS.

MOVING ON

Set to be the first freshman to start at quarterback for the Gators in the Florida-Georgia game since Chris Leak in 2003, Treon Harris took nearly all the first-team reps with the offense during the bye week and will get the majority of them this week as UF prepares to take on UGA in Jacksonville.

Muschamp, to this point, has been impressed with what he’s seen from the signal caller.

“Treon will be getting his first start, excited for him and what he’s going to be able to do,” he said. “[Harris is] a guy that has a knack for making plays, certainly has got a calm, cool, collected [way] about himself and how he carries himself. I think we’ll play well. Identify some things he feels comfortable with as well as we continue to move forward offensively. As much as anything, we’ve struggled with an identity because of the turnovers. That’s been a major issue.”

He also believes Harris will be able to carry a full workload, without a limited playbook, considering all of the extra action he’s seen through the bye week.

“I think in the open week our offensive staff did a pretty good job of identifying some things that Treon does extremely well, so we won’t pare things down as much as you might think with a freshman quarterback,” he said. “He’s an extremely bright young man. He’s able to handle a lot of things on his plate. I think the [extra] repetition … will help him moving forward.”


Muschamp cites Florida’s 15 turnovers through its last four games as one reason the Gators’ offense has “struggled with [its] identity.”

“It’s a struggle to get anything going offensively,” he said. “But we’ve run the ball pretty well through the year; we need to continue to build the play actions off of that.”

To that end, expect redshirt junior QB Jeff Driskel to see some action on Saturday, as Muschamp first noted last Wednesday. Driskel’s role has yet to be determined for the game, but he will likely be counted on to be more of a power runner out of the quarterback position despite sitting out of practice last week.

“Jeff’s had a sore back a little bit. He missed most of last week as far as just getting some rest with him,” Muschamp said. “But he’ll be back at practice [Monday] and be ready to go. And we’ll identify [what his role will be] moving forward.”

FOUR YEARS OF OFFENSIVE STRUGGLES

Asked to break down four years of offensive struggles at Florida and pinpoint the overriding issue – coaching, staff changes, player performance, etc. – Muschamp went through all his four seasons with the Gators, noting that that two positions in particular (really, one) have been at fault for Florida’s issues.

“I would say inconsistency at quarterback an receiver. I think those two positions have not been what we’ve needed them to be. You go back to our first year when we got here, John Brantley was a senior and Tyler Murphy was an underclassman. We recruited Jacoby [Brissett] and Jeff, both to come in as freshman quarterbacks. John got hurt the second quarter of the Alabama game; threw the ball extremely well in the first half, over 200 yards passing against probably the best defense in college football that year. Him coming off the injury was never healthy as the year rolled forward, so we had very inconsistent performances on top of missing some playing time.

“Our second year, Jeff was in his first year as a starter. We were very good on defense. We were very good on special teams. We were a very physical run football team. Quite frankly, as the head coach, made decisions that we were going to play to our strengths and that’s run the football, play action, use the quarterback’s legs in the run game. It afforded us 11 wins, so it worked.

“I don’t think it’s really fair to judge last year from the standpoint of we went through three quarterbacks. We went through a lot of different offensive line combinations, especially at the tackle position, and we struggled mightily throwing the football.

“Going into this year, I felt very comfortable as far as coming out of training camp with how we were throwing the football. I really did. You look at our first couple ballgames, I thought we were very efficient throwing the football, especially the second half [and overtime] of the Kentucky game. For whatever reason, we have lost some confidence. Whether it’s dropped passes, whether it’s timing, whether it’s forced throws, and we’ve had way too much inconsistency as far as ball security at the quarterback position and turnovers. That’s why we’re going with Treon.”

WHERE ARE THE RECEIVERS?

For a position group expected to be much-improved from a year ago, Florida’s wide receivers have been as disappointing as any unit on the team. Aside from sophomore Demarcus Robinson, who has racked up 524 yards and four touchdowns on 34 receptions, no other Gators wideout has more than 122 yards, one score or 10 catches.

Combined, Florida’s wide receivers (aside from Robinson) have totaled 281 yards and a single touchdown on 30 receptions. That’s just not going to cut it, especially for an offense that Muschamp said – on more than one occasion – had the most talent he’s had in his four years with the Gators.

“I don’t think we’ve played up to our capabilities. Demarucs Robinson has been our one lone receiver that’s been consistently productive throughout the year,” he said. “I think our offensive line, for the most part, has played well. We didn’t the other night. …

“Again, it’s been disappointing coming out of training camp and thinking about where we were, where I thought we were, and then for whatever reason, from a confidence standpoint, lack of production has been there.”

NOTES AND QUOTES

» On the rivalry: “Well, we need to get a win. That’s the first thing. It’s just one of the great rivalries in college football. … To be in the stadium that’s split 50-50, the importance of the game to both universities is very special. It’s obviously very important. Our guys understand the importance of this game as the university of Florida. that’s enough said for it.”

» On whether job concerns have affected game week prep: “Every week is the same during the season. It’s Groundhog Day. … Complete bunker mentality during the season as far as what we need to do to be successful.”

» On redshirt senior WR Quinton Dunbar, who did not play against Missouri, possibly playing against Georgia: “We need to be productive, and Ahmad [Fulwood]’s been a guy that’s been very productive at practice and working hard. Quinton had a good off week, and he’ll play against Georgia, and we’ll continue to work through the repetitions throughout the week.”

» On freshman running back Brandon Powell: “He’ll have a significant role in the game.”

» On Georgia’s tremendous turnover margin: “You look at Georgia, the one thing that jumps out at you is the turnover margin. They’re +13. They’ve only had four turnovers on the entire season. That’s the reason why they are where they are. They take care of the football.”

» On the Bulldogs’ running backs: “Those guys are all physical guys, run the ball down the hill, north-south. They’re one-cut runners. They get the ball north-south pretty quickly.”

» On bigger running backs succeeding in the SEC: “It’s no different than buying a boxing ticket. Do you buy it to go see the featherweights fight or the heavyweights? The heavyweights.”

33 Comments

  1. TheRealCaruso says:

    I’m just a baffled fan now.

    With Jeff’s ineffectiveness throwing the ball, having him as the “power runner out of the quarterback position” does not bode well for our team. I personally do not understand this thought process. I cannot believe that the stable of running backs on the UF roster, are not as capable if not more so than a QB with the propensity to underwhelm. If he remains this option, I only foresee it being very reminiscent of the Burton-Cat that was almost every time it was implemented during games. We are already a non-threat throwing the ball.

    • Frank says:

      Coach didn’t say Jeff would be a “power runner at QB”, Adam did, and he can only assume. Jeff may not play at all, as coach may just be giving uga something to think about. We’ll see Saturday.

    • MOD8 says:

      It sounds to me like if Treon is doing good (over simplification), Jeff won’t be seeing any playtime. If Jeff hops on the field thats a cry for help. After the Missouri game I think he his mentally done.

  2. Rakkasan says:

    “Every week is the same during the season. It’s Groundhog Day. … Complete bunker mentality during the season as far as what we need to do to be successful.”

    Hmmmmmmm. Maybe that’s part of the problem.

    • Frank says:

      He was answering the question concerning whether the noise and firing threats were affecting him or his family. He gave the answer I expected from Coach- I’m trying to block out the noise and prepare the Gators to play uga. I also appreciated his honesty of how tough it is to face his 9 yr old son on why fans are verbally assaulting his dad. Mark it down…We will regret firing Will Muschamp if it happens. Yes it has been “OJT”, but I think he can still turn this thing around. GO Gators!!! Beat uga!!!

      • 305Gator says:

        I missed the part where he mentioned his son and that must be really tough but it is also meaningless for our discussion here. That conversation must go on for every struggling and losing coach in America, not just in Muschamp’s house. That is one price you pay to be the HC at a big time University. Asa fan what matters to me is the results on the field, whether Muschamp is a nice guy or not is just collateral. Saban is reportedly a big time A hole, yet the folks at UA just love the guy because he is a great coach and has had tremendous success on the field. Muschamp has not had success save for the 2012 season that now appears to be a fluke. So yes it must be hard facing his son, yet he must man up and put out or go away. Seems like he needs to go away.

      • KB says:

        You know it is tough also being a fan too. We all want UF to do well on the gridiron and let’s be clear nobody wanted Muschamp not to succeed. That would be a wish for UF to not succeed by proxy. Sometimes you gotta call it for what it is. We have had 4 years with his recruited players, his handpicked coaches, and the product has gone from bad to not very good to absolute train wreck and finally where you can hardly bare to watch. Man that Mizzou game was terrible and I couldn’t pray for it to be over faster. Yeah… it is hell on him but the fans that support him want better than what is being put out there. Good guy, no doubt, but this is the job and it is to win more than you loose. I think he would tell you for all his “we gotta get it fixed” he has failed. Nobody to blame at this point when you are the captain of the ship. It should not be this way going into a fourth year; OJT or otherwise. The coach is accountable for it all and he has failed to fix those problems on the field in order to be a constant threat for SEC crowns. If we are talking about a legitimate offense to match the defensive side then he is 0 for 4 in his tenure. These are the facts and nothing I have seen so far provides hope for different results. It is what it is. I will be watching every quarter of every game though pulling for Gator Football.

  3. Jesse Ven-Johnson says:

    Sorry, coach, but your flowery speeches just don’t produce the same optimism as before. Your tenure here is like being at the dentist’s office: I just want it to be over.

    • Frank says:

      I respectfully disagree. I can see why his players like him. From Day One, I would have run through a wall for Coach. Still would.

      • 305Gator says:

        Too bad that has not translated into winning games. So he may be likeable yet he still cannot win. Time to go.

  4. Aligator says:

    Muschamp basically spelled out what we already knew, he has not clue about offense and has taken the time to try and figure it out. Then blame last year on injuries. This was a terrible hire since day one. Th

    • 305Gator says:

      I agree he has no clue about offense, and Driskel has a lot to do with that too. But I do give him a pass for last year, the injuries were not an excuse they were real. Bad enough trotting Driskel out there as your starting QB but trotting out a hobbled Tyler Murphy and then Skyler Morningwheg? You cannot win without a QB in this league, never mind the many other guys that went down last year.
      This year though there is no “excuse”, this year so far has been a disaster.

  5. ntcrze says:

    Why is Driskel included in the game plan? Was Harris included in the game plan when Driskel was the starter? Muschamp just can’t let go of Driskel, can he? He’s worse that someone who gets a divorce and still has hope of getting back together. Oh well, the tragic love affair between Driskel and Muschamp is nearing it’s end, thank God.

    • Ken (CA) says:

      The sad thing is, he specifically noted when fans first started saying “Put in Treon”, that he wasn’t in the game plan at all. God knows what would have happened if Driskel had gone down yet again.

  6. Steven says:

    I can’t wait until we get the optimism of a new coach.
    Please Foley hit a home run.

    Gary Patterson?

    • Ken (CA) says:

      The more I have thought about it over the past couple of the weeks, the more I think Patterson would be exactly who we need and might be able to get (After the obligatory offer to Bob Stoops and maybe SOS)

      • Michael Jones says:

        lol. . you guys are killing me. The best choice for us today is the same guy who was the best choice when Muschamp was hired: Dan Mullen. He’s right there in front of us but for some reason everyone is wearing blinders. At this point I just have to laugh. Have you even seen Miss St play? The WAY they play?

        Don’t bother to respond. I know. . I know. . he hasn’t won 4 National Championships in a row yet so he’s not worthy. Like any of those other candidates have.

        At this point I just have to laugh. Hopefully we’ll get him in spite of ourselves. Then again, this is the only place where I haven’t seen a pro-Mullen sentiment. Free country. Have at it.

        • Razzlegator says:

          I just don’t see the guy that’s been busting a nut to get it going at his place of employment, and has it going by all accounts, coming here just because we say so. Just my opinion.

  7. bdown says:

    Good afternoon Adam…my weekly name drop, RichRod….have a good day

    • Dave Massey says:

      Rodriguez was directly involved in major violations at Michigan and claimed “it was a misinterpretation of the rules”.. Florida doesn’t need a coach that doesn’t understand the rules, he will not even be considered, and his record at UM was terrible.

      • bdown says:

        Most of those “rules” have been revised by the NCAA, i.e. contact hours…..i’d rather have an issue with a guy who didn’t know those rules as opposed to a guy that doesn’t know a damn thing about offense….RichRods record at UM was terrible and there record has been since he left too….guessing that’s his fault? But what he’s been able to do at WVU and especially at Arizona is nothing short of amazing…..that U of A football program used to give away season tickets when you signed up for new cable service in Tucson and he’s winning there. What’s laughable are some of the names people throw out there that they want as a new coach….RichRod will be considered, doesn’t mean he’ll get it…but he will be considered….helluva S. Florida recruiter too

        • Dave Massey says:

          A lot of rules have been revised over the years, he broke them personally when they were in effect. Surprised he didn’t get a show cause penalty. And I don’t want a head coach who doesn’t know or understand the rules. What Michigan did after he left is Hoke’s problem, but he did inherit Rodriguez recruits.

          What he did at WVU is awhile ago and was in a weak conference.

          What has he done that is so amazing at Arizona? They went 8-5 the last two years and won minor bowl games. That won’t make Florida fans happy. This year is barely half over. He lost to USC, which is not a very good team. They still have several tough games coming up so we’ll see where they end up.

          Florida is not going to consider ANY coach who participated in major NCAA violations.

          To be honest, of the most qualified coaches out there, i.e.-coaches from major programs with winning records who have competed for national championships, I don’t see anyone who would accept the position at Florida. That leaves an up and coming coach and I just don’t see one out there who isn’t a risk hire, and will take the job. I sure wouldn’t want the job of making that decision.

          One thing I will agree is that Florida doesn’t need a defensive minded coach. They need someone who is offensive minded. It is easy to hire defensive coordinators but successful offensive coordinators tend to get snatched up pretty quick for other head coaching jobs, like Dan Mullen did.

  8. Zach says:

    I know the “incontinent performances” of the qb’s was a typo, but it still fits perfectly. Haha, was hard to focus after that. Go Gators

  9. Taylormade says:

    What about chip Kelley

    • Dave Massey says:

      Why would the coach of Notre Dame want to leave for Florida? Florida fans sure are full of self importance if they think that would happen. I guarantee the Domers can pay more than Florida ever could come up with to keep him if they want to. If that were to happen I can see another false illness in Meyer the Cryer’s near future, lol.

      • Ken (CA) says:

        Actually Brian Kelly is Notre Dame, and there also isn’t that bad of a chance that he might go.. I mentioned him earlier. ND isn’t what it used to be, recruiting is tough, climate is tough, no conference affiliation (ACC for some games doesn’t count)

        • Dave Massey says:

          Yeah, I know, Tayormade pointed out my error, check out below. Recruiting is tough at Notre Dame a lot because of the academics but the academics are tough at Stanford and see what they have been doing. But the weather there is a lot better. You would think if you are a good coach that you should be able to recruit and win at Notre Dame considering the tradition and the fact those alumni can come up with just about any amount of money that the school would ask them too.

          I have a feeling the domers will eventually join a conference. The votes on the playoff committee might force their hand along with the Big 12 if they favor the conferences that have a conference playoff which I suspect they will come the first week of December based on their first vote. ND already has a contract with the ACC for five games a year and that would make a fit for them without having to cancel a bunch of contracts.

          I think the reason they haven’t made that decision is because of that fat NBC contract they have which runs another ten years or so.

          They might try and wait it out though until the playoffs are expanded to eight teams, which I think is inevitable. They would probably get in easier in that case without the conference affiliation.

          The thing that is really beginning to worry me is that I think of all the coaches out there, and I don’t have any particular favorite, such as Mullen, Stoops, the Kelly’s, Spurrier, etc., I think Florida is going to have to pay one of them a boatload of money in order to get them to come to Florida.

  10. Taylormade says:

    Because he’s not at notre dame

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