While not perfect, a good-enough day for Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp

By Adam Silverstein
November 2, 2014

Every few moments while the clock was ticking down on Saturday, between hugs and smiles on the sideline, the expression on the face of Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp visibly changed. As excited he was to win his first Florida-Georgia rivalry game in eight tries (four as a Bulldogs player, four as the Gators’ coach), as revealed as he felt to not have to worry about his job status on Sunday, Muschamp knew deep down that something was missing from his team’s 38-20 victory.

“I’m just really happy,” he said in his post-game press conference. “I wish my father was here; that’s what I thought about late in the game.”

Larry Muschamp, who passed away in May, would have been proud of Will and his Florida football team on Saturday afternoon.


Had he been able to watch the game, the father would have seen a group of young men completely buying into his son’s game plan, rallying around his son when he needed their support the most and subsequently working their tails off to ensure that the Gators ended their three-game losing streak to the Bulldogs and Will Muschamp remained their coach for at least one more week.

“It’s a big win [not only] for him but for all of us. I feel the same way Muschamp feels. I never beat Georgia neither. It’s my first time beating them, too, so I’m ecstatic,” said junior left tackle D.J. Humphries.

“I’m happy Champ got a ‘W’ and we were with him; we helped him take it all the way through. I’m so happy for Champ, man. I feel like he’s a part of our team just like I feel like the rest of the guys that line up with me. I feel like that’s a father figure for me, so I was happy for him.”

The stress and pressure was visibly lifting off Muschamp’s shoulders as Florida (4-3, 3-3 SEC) piled on the points and the clock ticked closer to zero. Unsuccessful runs were met with a shrug – rather than a hand over the face – and questionable penalty calls received a disappointed look and a shake of the head – rather than a rage face and a screaming fit.

Once he left the EverBank Field playing surface – following an extended celebration with his players – and finished up in the locker room, Muschamp was pleased to do something he usually dreads – meet with the media.

“First of all, let me get this off my back,” he quipped upon entering the room, referring to his finally being on the winning side of the rivalry game.

He later added: “I’m happy to win it. It feels a lot better than the other side. I don’t think they’re going to induct me into the Florida-Georgia Hall of Fame or anything. I’m not sure I’m on the ballot now.”

Muschamp then got the opportunity to discuss something other than his job status, what actually occurred on the field: the Gators playing the exact brand of blue-collar football he envisioned when deciding to return home to Gainesville, Florida.

His team was dominant running the ball, taking 60 total carries for 418 yards and five rushing scores. It was equally devastating defensively, basically eliminating the Bulldogs’ rushing attack from the second quarter on while getting consistent pressure on the quarterback throughout the contest.

That’s why, as much as Saturday was an important day for Muschamp both personally and professionally, he stayed true to himself and gave his players all the credit for doing everything necessary to prove they were the better team.

“Just extremely proud of our football team and how they came out and performed,” he began. “For the guys to pull together to show – against a good football team, a top 10 football team – to come together and understand what’s at stake as far as our season’s concerned, as far as three-[losses]-in-a-row, as far as sending our seniors out the right way, all of the things that are really critical and really important about this rivalry, and our guys understood it. We were able to make the plays when we needed to in the game. …

“Very happy for our players in understanding what we needed to do to be successful in the game and that was dominate both lines of scrimmage, try to stop the run … Just extremely proud of our players, I really am. And I’m really happy for our fans; the Gator Nation gets to sit and enjoy that. It was great to see our side still full at the end. For our fans to be able to enjoy and bask in that, I’m really happy for that as well. And I really appreciate their support.”

In the end, no matter how well a team plays in a game, there is no such thing as a perfect performance. Similarly, despite the fact that Florida dominated Saturday’s contest and got the team, its players, its fans and Muschamp the win that was so desperately needed, it was not a perfect day for the head coach.

Nothing accomplished on the field could have made it such, because something more important was missing off of the gridiron.

“You can imagine how tough it is.”

Photo Credit: Stephen B. Morton/Associated Press

27 Comments

  1. Dave Massey says:

    Papa Muschamp is doing the Gator Chomp in heaven.

    Amazing how few comments there have been on this site after a spectacular win. 4-3 with the next three games very winnable. Hmmm…………………….

    • Ken (CA) says:

      So few because as I mentioned in the post game write up, why rain on the parade. Enjoy the win. Arguably the most important game he has coached at Florida and also arguably the most complete game the team has played since 2012.

      For me, it is too little too late to suddenly jump back on the bandwagon, but I saw no point in dampening the mood in what was a great win for the team, the school, and the coach.

  2. Michael Jones says:

    Very touching about Coach Muschamp and his dad. A reminder that these guys are human beings too. Millionaire human beings, but no less human than the rest of us.

    As I’ve said many times, on a personal level I have no problem with the guy and I wish him and his family all the personal and professional success in the world.

  3. W says:

    Great write-up, Adam. People have plenty of qualms with the man as a football coach, but as a leader of young men and as a person, he is a winner. It’s been so hard to watch these past two years because there seems to be so much mutual love between Muschamp and his players. It was really heartening to see him get a real signature win, regardless of what will happen the rest of the year. Maybe I’m alone, but I think he deserved to have a game like this.

    To me, this was the first game I have actually genuinely enjoyed watching since the FSU game in 2012, and even that was a little stressful in the second half. I can’t recall the last time we played a game against a quality opponent where the outcome was rarely in doubt in the second half. Maybe South Carolina in the 2012 turnover-fest, but that wasn’t nearly as dominant a performance as yesterday was. Just so proud of the team for coming together during this bye week and beating Georgia’s ass. I don’t think anyone expects us to run the table the rest of the way, but no one expected us to do this to Georgia yesterday. Strap in, ladies and gents, because it’s going to be an interesting November.

  4. gatorboi352 says:

    I told you guys! The only problem with this team was the play of Driskel. All other “issues” were simply magnified because of it, seeming worse than it was.

    Insert Not Jeff Driskel, and these are the results you get. Just wait until they start letting Treon make some plays with his arm off of the play action.

    • Michael Jones says:

      Yeah, you were right, Gatorboi. Treon ran the ball 6 times for 31 yards. He completed 3 out 6 passes for 27 yards, and two of those throws were behind the line of scrimmage. He had a QB rating of 38.1. Oh, and he had the exact same kind of turnover that everybody was crucifying Driskel for in the LSU game.

      Yeah, Treon won the game singlehandedly and Driskel sucks. We get it.

      All of this is not to take anything away from Treon. He wasn’t calling the plays and he did a nice job for what he was asked to do. But give me a break.

      If the team played harder for Treon than they did for Driskel, then that says a lot more about the team than it does about Driskel.

    • Razzlegator says:

      Hand off the ball sixty times? You and I could have done that. Let’s let the kid actually do something on a consistent basis before we anoint him as the second coming.

      • gatorboi352 says:

        Wow you two must have dropped out of Reading Comprehension 101.

        Nowhere did I say at any point that Treon single handedly won this game.

        Jeff is cursed, no confidence, sucks a QB… whatever it is, he doesn’t have it. All I said was “insert Not Jeff Driskel and these are the results you get”.

        Treon’s pedestrian performance furthers my point even more: this team just plays better with NOT Jeff Driskel out there. It didn’t even matter that it was Treon, what mattered is that is wasn’t Jeff.

        Go sit in time out, both of you.

  5. W2 says:

    I’m glad the team played they way they did and I’m proud Coach got the win. I can only imagine the pressure on him and his family. Boy those guys ran that ball. Great win great read. Go Gators

  6. darth gator says:

    Proud of the guys, no doubt.

    Win out and I’ll be satisfied. But he needs to finish strong or in going to want blood.

  7. Oldflyer says:

    Really happy for the Gators and Coach Muschamp.

    Really mystified by Gatorboi and his inability to pass up an opportunity for a dig at Jeff Driskel. Hard to believe that he is so delusional as to believe that the real difference yesterday was in the QB play; but, maybe he is

  8. Gatoralum88 says:

    It’s been a while since we’ve all enjoyed a win like yesterday (a season changing win for me) & the one MUST win Muschamp had to get this year & he got it. Good for him! I couldn’t be happier for him. Seeing Foley’s happiness after the game leads me to believe Muschamp may have earned himself another year barring an upset in these next 3 weeks (yes, Spurrier’s D is so bad I’d consider losing that game an upset). As quickly as his seat has cooled it’ll re-heat with another embarrassing loss.

    Moving forward, whatever inspiration/motivation the O & D lines found yesterday they’ll somehow need to maintain. That was the game of Muschamp’s dreams! Also, while I do feel a bit bad for Driskell, who understandably seemed like the only player who wasn’t ecstatic after that win, he must now realize it’s over for him at UF barring an injury to Treon. I’m sure he’s a fine young man & all that so if he’s graduating it’s probably best for him to transfer. A school like USF would probably welcome him with open arms. For Treon, they’ll need to give him a little more leeway against Vandy & beyond or teams will just stack the box to really stop the run.

    Again, I’m very happy for Muschamp but he now has a lot of damage control & selling to do avoid having one of the school’s worst ever recruiting classes. Let’s all hope yesterday’s win is the first sign of a turnaround & not another anomaly like we’re all thinking his 2nd year was. Yesterday’s win has me fired up again like I was after watching his introductory press conference. GO GATORS!!!

    • Michael Jones says:

      Please, let’s don’t get ahead of ourselves. It was a nice win and nothing more. Seeing Foley on the sideline hugging and kissing staff like we had just won the National Championship was embarrassing.

      Let’s just enjoy finally winning a big game without having to proclaim that 1 win suddenly erases everything else and Muschamp has saved his job. My biggest fear coming into this season is that we’d be just mediocre enough for him to keep his job another year. He runs the table, then we can legitimately begin to consider that maybe he has begun to turn the program around.

      4-3 overall (counting the big Eastern Mich win) and 3-3 in the SEC East in Muschamp’s 4th year might be enough to get Foley uncorking champagne bottles, but not the rest of Gator Nation.

      • Gatoralum88 says:

        Yeah, you’re probably right. I guess I’m still riding high in my O&B glasses. After listening to & reading some of his post-game comments he came across differently to me than he has in the past & I thought he handled it all (the negativity & so forth) well. So, I found myself thinking about Adam’s SL column the other day & thought “perhap?”. Somehow he was able to get them to play the way they did yesterday at their “ground & dog pound” best (a nice line I heard on SEC network) like they did in Tallahassee 2 years ago (his other signature win). So we know he has it somewhere in him to inspire guys.

        No doubt, I’ve been one of his many harsh critics on this site & with good reason but, like it or not (& brace yourself Mike), if they win these next three games I doubt he’ll be going anywhere. I think if they’re 7-3 heading to Tallahassee, regardless of that outcome, Foley will have seen enough “progress” to retain him. So, as the saying goes, “if you can’t beat ’em join ’em”. Yes, the jury will still be out & there will still be countless doubters & second guessers. For the time being, why not get back behind him? Go Gators!

      • senuod says:

        I agree with everything you said except for your critique on Foley. Really don’t think it’s necessary. Given this and last season, we ALL deserve some leeway in how much we enjoy this win including the administration. As long as Foley has been a Gator, he has every right to be excited about a huge win and the way we won.

        Even those of us who thought Florida could win would not have imagined this sort of dominance. All that being said, it’s one game, but give Foley a break.

        • Michael Jones says:

          I have no beef with Foley being just as excited and happy as the rest of us, but there was something about that display that gave me the impression that he was suggesting that win vindicated his hiring of Muschamp.

          Maybe I read too much into it. If it was just genuine, innocent, sheer happiness and celebrating a big win against UGA, then you’re right, there’s nothing wrong with that. Certainly nothing wrong with an AD supporting his coach and his team.

  9. Luke says:

    Nice to see ‘Champ calming down with the antics on the sideline flipping out on refs. I always wondered how you can preach discipline while you lose it and act out on the sidelines. Billy D has a great philosophy on focusing on what you can control and less on what just happened. As of now, this team and staff controls their destiny by controlling their attitude and effort.

    ‘Champ seems to be maturing and if we can win out, or even drop just one (two?) more, I’m happy to have him grow up with us. IF he grows up and we see something respectable on the field. Establish the run, then open up the passing game. Treon could be good, but there’s a lot of football left to be played… Go gators!

  10. Razzlegator says:

    Any time we beat UGAly, that’s a good thing. NO MATTER WHAT! Running the ball 60 times a game isn’t going to work against a really good team. Luckily it looks like we only have one game left against a team that qualifies for that title(imo). The kid better get learning the passing part of the playbook quick if we’re gonna have a chance against that team. The O line better stay health too.

    • Ken (CA) says:

      A really good team? Do you realize that Vegas and Bovado going into Saturday had UGA as co-favorites at 7-2 to win the national championship?

      • Razzlegator says:

        Coaches pre season poll had them at number 8 with one first place vote. I’ll trust that over someone trying to part me from my money. Good team? Yes. Really good team? No.

        • Ken (CA) says:

          And how often does the preseason #1 actually win the NC? almost never. 9 weeks into the season is a much better indicator of what is going on and how good the teams are. Trust whatever you want, but Vegas doesn’t make odds willy nilly to “part you from your money”. It is far more intricate than that based on balancing the betting on both sides of the bets. They aren’t trying to part you from your money as much as they are minimizing their risk by allowing you to bet. Every week that something happens they tend to become more accurate. Throw Gurley back in if they could make it through 1 more game and UGA is a pretty elite team with a manageable schedule ahead.

  11. gatormiami says:

    Some people have very short memories. It’s been nearly 2 years since a meaningful win. Let’s recap: #1 vs high school caliber talent. #2 a painful win over UK while displaying no offense or defense. #3 a horrendous loss to Bama, which would’ve been even worse had Saban not let up. (Bama historic offensive output near worst UF defense) #4 an embarrassing victory over an inferior UT. #5 UF gives away a game in the swamp to a down LSU team. #6 Super embarrassing homecoming defeat to a very mediocre Mizzou squad. #6 a win over a shocked UGA that still gained 500 yards. Let’s be sure to make our competitors overjoyed by giving our millionaire coach another $3 million…. while driving recruits to FSU, UGA, Bama, LSU, Auburn, etc and yes, even UM. We can learn to compete with USF for talent. I say avoid this and DUMP CHUMP!

  12. Frank says:

    A couple of things: 1) For those downplaying this game, you really don’t understand the intensity of this rivalry. I love winning, but beating uga is on whole different level. 2) I’m jealous of Foley. I only wish I could have been in his shoes on the sideline Saturday 3) I LOVE COACH MUSCHAMP!!! From the day he was hired I would run through a wall for him. I don’t think the players are acting. They really love him too. 4) I lost my dad to cancer five years ago. Took me almost a year before it got to a point that it wasn’t affecting my work in some way. For those of you who had great dads that have passed on, you know what I’m talking about. My point is that Coach, in my opinion has dealt with great adversity, including the attacks of a very rabid fan base, and showed both great class and unreal determination and amazing focus to block out the noise and lead his Gator Boys to victory. Incredible… 5) And nobody has brought this up, and I know the responses coming, but Coach making 3 million is not his fault. It’s the crazy market for sports salaries across the board. I’ll go as far as to say NO athlete or coach is worth the money that’s out there. But neither is the CEO of Apple or Citicorp. BUT it’s the market, not Coach. Just my humble opinion. GO GATORS!!! Beat vandy…Payback Time!!!

  13. gatorboi352 says:

    Despite the closet Noles Michael Jones and Razzlegator, us TRUE Gator fans will be enjoying this won WHOLE HEARTEDLY!

    • Razzlegator says:

      You make no sense boi. Call me a nole one more time and it will get ugly. True Fan? Just because you post on Aligator Army doesn’t make you anything special. The reason they aren’t using Treon’s arm more is because he doesn’t know the playbook. Driskel could have handed it off 60 times and probably would have had the same results.

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