No. 7 Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday to review the team’s sloppy 17-9 loss to the Georgia Bulldogs and preview Saturday’s game against the No. 10 Missouri Tigers.
Muschamp had plenty to say when he stepped up to the microphone on Monday. Below is how he began his weekly press conference.
“Obviously the turnovers were the killer in the game. Self-inflicted. When you turn the ball over six times, you’re going to have a hard time beating anyone. That was disappointing really at the end of the game. Really inconsistent offensively in the run game and in the pass game. Never really got some continuity going from different issues. [...]
“I thought we were really good on third down against a good third-down defense. The inconsistencies and then the turnovers really were doomsday for us offensively. Defensively, disappointed with some of the first-half run fits. I thought we missed some things that we don’t normally miss. Got those things cleaned up. The last drive obviously we had an opportunity to win the game and don’t get it done. Red zone defense, third-down defense and really in the second half up until the last drive we played pretty solid. I thought we were solid in special teams, just nothing spectacular. We didn’t do anything to really change the game, which we have for the most part this season and we need to.
“Disappointed with the results but not the effort. Our guys played hard. It’s very evident as you watch the film, we played hard. We played extremely hard in the game. We laid a lot on the line out there on the field. Very pleased with the effort. We have a very resilient group of young men in the locker room. You turn the ball over six times, you face a lot of adversity in the game and we’re driving to win the game on the last drive of the game. That says a lot about our football team. That says a lot about the guys in the locker room, that they were able to overcome a lot of self-inflicted issues to continue to fight to win the game and have the opportunity. Six turnovers, you should have walked out of there losing by four touchdowns, honestly. That says a lot about the character on our football team and what we’ve got going on in that locker room.
“It’s not the result we wanted, and I’m disappointed, that falls on my shoulders and I’ll handle that and we’ll move forward and refocus as we go but that’s all on me. No different when we win, we need to focus on Florida, be technical in our approach. I told the staff yesterday and today again, obviously there was some things we did well in the game and there are some things we need to have corrected. That’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to focus on us and what we need to do to get better. [...]
“That’s the tough thing about football – you got to wait seven days, you know? Billy [Donovan] and them may lose on a Wednesday and they get to go back Saturday and play, or [Kevin O'Sullivan and the baseball team], they play a double-header, they play in the morning and then in the afternoon. They can get a win and get it out of their system, and we can’t. It is what it is. I’m disappointed again with the results, not the effort of our football team. I’m very proud of the resiliency, guys continuing to fight and battle in the game. It’s just unfortunate we didn’t get the results we wanted and that’s on me.”
Read the rest of what Muschamp had to say…after the break!
Muschamp announced that junior wide receiver Solomon Patton broke the upper portion of his arm and is out for the season. Patton, who was tackled by his neck and got his arm trapped under his body on Saturday, is not expected to be ready in time for the bowl game and will likely return to practice in the spring. “He was having a fantastic year. He does a lot for us on offense but on special teams he’s a great gunner and a guy you can use in the reverse game,” Muschamp said of Patton. “A great young man who has really given a lot to our program in the two years I’ve been here. But he’ll be back this spring and he’ll be fine. Andre [Debose] needs to step it up a little bit and help us in some situations there. We got to fill the void of what he gives you from a dynamic player standpoint. He’s a guy that can get on the edge and do some good things.”
Junior defensive tackle Damien Jacobs (hamstring) was forced to miss the game but is expected to return to practice Tuesday. Also expected to practice Tuesday are senior left tackle Xavier Nixon and redshirt senior left guard James Wilson as both twisted a knee during the game. An update was not provided on redshirt junior Will linebacker
RUNNING GAME AT A CROSSROADS
Noting that he wanted to establish the Gators as a tough and physical team, Muschamp put an emphasis on running the ball early in the season and did so to great success. Over its first six games, Florida eclipsed the 300-yard plateau twice, the 200-yard plateau twice and never rushed for fewer than 142 yards in a single game. That has changed drastically over the last two weeks as UF picked up 86 yards on the ground against South Carolina and 81 on Saturday against Georgia.
“People have done a better job of adjusting to some of the things we’re doing, some of the extra linemen and things we’re doing,” said Muschamp when explaining the decline in production. “The misdirection runs haven’t been hit as well – that’s what’s been really good for us throughout the year. We’re continuing to look at that and find different ways to run it.
“In our league, they catch up pretty quick with you as far as the things you’re doing. You got to continue to stay advanced in what you’re doing. I think we’ll have a good plan this week again to run it. I think we had a good plan last week. We got whipped at the point of attack, quite frankly, and we need to win some of those. You got to win some one-on-ones in this league. We’ve got to do a better job of winning some of those.”
Part of the problem is that opponents know the Gators are going to run and run often. In fact, Florida has run the ball on first down just under 80 percent of the time this season. That is predictable offense no matter how you cut it, but Muschamp pointed out that the team is aware of that statistic.
“I do think a lot of that is based on situational football,” he said. “We scout ourselves hard. We look at what we’re doing based on the personnel groupings we have and the field position and the down and distance. That’s something we study pretty hard. We don’t just look at overall first downs. We look at the situation of the first down.”
NOTES AND QUOTES
» On if redshirt junior tight end Jordan Reed should have lowered his shoulder instead of jumping in the air on the last offensive play of the game: “The guy’s trying to make a play. I’m never going to disrupt a guy from trying to make a play. Does he need to have better ball security? Sure. However you do that, just have better ball security. No one player or one play lost the game, at the end of the day. The guy’s trying to make a play. The guy plays with great effort and passion and he made a couple really nice plays on the drive. We wouldn’t be in that position if it weren’t for him. And the guy is trying to make a play, so, it’s easy to criticize when you’re sitting in the stands. Get in the arena and play.”
» On how the team will handle the loss this year compared to 2011: “You always have the initial disappointment of losing a tough game. I certainly saw that in the locker room with a lot of guys, maybe more so than a year ago. The entire football team was affected and understands the importance of the situation. […] It’s time to move forward. You have 24 hours to enjoy it or not enjoy it then you got to move forward. […] I think we got a mature bunch that is able to refocus and put it behind them. You don’t ever forget the loss. To say that is cliché. I don’t want them to forget the loss. I want them to learn from it and I want them to use it as motivation. If you can’t use it as motivation in a positive way, then you do need to forget it, and some guys are like that. We’re all created differently and we all handle losing differently.”
» On what sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel can improve on going forward: “Just his decision making. It’s never a bad thing to end a possession with a kick, whether it’s a punt or a field goal. It’s never a bad thing.”