Looking to win consecutive league games for the first time in a year, the Florida Gators (5-3, 4-3 SEC) rolled into Nashville, Tennessee, and proved to be the dominant team from the third series onward, upending the Vanderbilt Commodores (3-7, 0-6 SEC) on Saturday night at Vanderbilt Stadium.
Muschamp met with the media after Florida’s 34-10 win to discuss his team’s latest victory. A number of former Gators also took to social media before, during and after the contest to provide there thoughts on the game.
HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS
» Florida is now 36-10-2 all-time against Vanderbilt; the series between UF and VU dates back to 1945 with games being played annually since 1992. The Gators are 17-7-1 when playing the Commodores in Nashville with 12-straight road wins since 1990.
» The Gators are now 22-6 against unranked opponents under Muschamp and 13-4 against unranked SEC teams during his tenure after losing to LSU and Missouri – at home – in consecutive weeks this season.
» UF is still just 5-10 since Oct. 6, 2013, sporting the worst win-loss record in the SEC during that period.
» The Gators are second nationally and first in the SEC in red zone scoring, converting 29-of-31 chances. However, only 62.1 percent of those scores are touchdowns (18).
» Florida is now +4 in turnover margin this season after being even entering the Vanderbilt game. The Gators are now +11 in their six wins and -7 in three losses. UF has a 23-4 record under Muschamp when winning the turnover battle in a game.
» Freshman quarterback Treon Harris averaged 16.5 yards per completion, third-most under Muschamp and the highest for Florida since Nov. 19, 2011 (vs. Furman).
“PROUD” OPENING STATEMENT
“Turnovers. You take care of the ball. They had four turnovers for 13 points, certainly changed field position for us in our favor, multiple times. Penalties, I’m very disappointed. We’ve actually had a pretty good run at that, too. Self-inflicted wounds, right before half.
“Really proud of our football team. We had a big win last week. We came back; we took care of business. Defensively we lost our eyes a little bit on some things, on the second drive of the game that created some momentum for them. Really proud of our team. We took care of the ball. We had some explosive plays. Very proud of Treon Harris and the way he played. If they’re going to load the box, we’ve got very talented guys outside that can go get the football. But we still created some things in our run game and hats off to our offensive staff to find some ways to run the ball. Really proud of that.
“Lot of stuff we can still work on. Getting back home is very important to us and playing well, a noon kickoff against South Carolina. We look forward to getting back home.”
Muschamp was not too revealing about Florida’s multiple in-game injuries, but the overall outlook appears to be positive for the Gators despite the offensive line taking some hits.
Redshirt senior right tackle Chaz Green “had a little banged-up knee,” redshirt freshman tackle Roderick Johnson hurt his shoulder on a special teams play, and sophomore wide receiver Ahmad Fulwood is thought to have gotten some turf toe in the contest, but Muschamp expects all three players to be “fine.”
Perhaps of more concern is an injury to redshirt junior right guard Tyler Moore, who “had an ankle” and “couldn’t come back” into the game. UF was already without senior RG Trenton Brown (knee) entering the game and may have to move another player into that position for the South Carolina game is neither player is ready to go by game time.
“We were makeshift [on the offensive line]. I got to see where we are with that. I think we’re OK,” said Muschamp. “We had to move some guys around, but hats-off to our offensive staff because we were able to stay productive.”
Junior left tackle D.J. Humphries, who was forced to jump inside to guard due to injuries, did not think it was a big deal overall. “Coach [Mike] Summers turns to us so much. When everyone starts going down, this is where we’re going to see how tough we are,” he said. “When you have that type of sense of urgency coming from your coaches, it’s like, ‘Alright, whatever, let’s keep it moving.”
Muschamp also praised redshirt senior WR Quinton Dunbar, who stepped in for Fulwood and had the second-best game of his career in terms of yard production. Dunbar dropped an early pass but responded with a 12-yard third-down conversion and then a 60-yard post pattern down the field. He totaled four receptions for 97 yards (one short of his career-high) in the contest.
“Catching the deep ball was important. … You lose your confidence a little bit, you don’t play as fast, you’re not as sure of yourself, you’re not as assertive of what you’re doing all the time,” explained Muschamp. “Sometimes as a player you need to continue to get your confidence back, and I think Quinton has done that. But he’s worked hard to do that. He practices hard every day he does everything you’re supposed to do. One man went down and Quinton stepped up. It was good to see.”
NOTES AND QUOTES
» Muschamp on not being creative running the ball at the goal line: “I just feel like when you’re 1st and Goal inside the five, you need to go for it; you need to get seven out of that unless the game situation changes things.”
» Muschamp on Florida’s defense allowing Vanderbilt to convert 3-of-4 fourth-down tries: “I was telling our guys. ‘You’re the firemen. You got to go put the fire out. You got to go step up and make a play.’ … D.J. [Durkin] doesn’t like when I say it, but I say I wish we’d open up the opening kickoff and fumble so our defense has to go out and put the fire out. Regardless of your circumstances, go play. Just go play. It’s a long game. Go make plays and you’ll have opportunities to [do so].”
» Muschamp on freshman cornerback Jalen Tabor’s big interception: “Yup. I taught him that there about the second day of practice. He’s a player that’s got really good ball skills, but he’s got really good length, a bigger corner. We like to have bigger guys to be able to match up down the field. Outstanding play on his part. It’s good to be able to have those guys play in those situations, but Jalen has played well for us in all situations. He’s played well. Again, very good ball skills, length and it was an outstanding play.”
» Muschamp on contending for the SEC East: “We need to take Florida and South Carolina and let the chips fall where they may. We’ve dug ourselves a hole and we need to go play an outstanding South Carolina offense. Last time is aw them on tape, they were slinging it all over and Coach [Steve] Spurrier is as good as there is. We need to get prepared for that. They had an off week and I know they’ve been working to get themselves back after a tough defeat there at Auburn. We’ll have our work cut out for us, I can assure you of that.”
» Muschamp on how he feels about the Gators now: “Winning solves a lot of things, bottom line, but it doesn’t cover up everything. We still have a lot of things we need to work on. … We’re by far from where we need to be. That’s no question about that. But as far as you work hard in this game and you’ve got to see some benefit from your labor and our guys are seeing that right now.”
» Junior running back Matt Jones on Florida’s turnaround: “That just tells me that my team has heart. My team doesn’t want to be denied. They still want to play for a SEC Championship. At the end of the day, you just want to play for something that has meaning.”