Florida-South Carolina post-game report: Gators coaches, players failed when it mattered most

By Adam Silverstein
November 15, 2014

A 23-20 overtime defeat at the hands of the South Carolina Gamecocks (5-5, 3-5 SEC) cost the Florida Gators (5-4, 4-4 SEC) plenty on Saturday and may ultimately result in a change in the job status of head coach Will Muschamp.

Florida aimed to “take back The Swamp” against South Carolina, looking to reverse its fortunes at home and avoid dropping three-straight contests at Florida Field for the second-straight season. Instead, the Gators floundered in the fourth quarter at overtime with the coaches and players all contributing to a meltdown that should have ripple effects over the next few days, weeks and months.

AN ALL-AROUND MELTDOWN

Florida’s failures were multiple on Saturday. They started and ended with the coaching staff, but the Gators on the field were not above blame either, despite UF’s defense making a number of crucial stops in the fourth quarter.

In the end, a coach who played not to lose – lost, and a team that had a game well in hand did not make the plays they needed to actually win it. Here are seven things that went wrong over the fourth quarter and in overtime.


Leading 17-10 entering the fourth quarter with the ball at South Carolina’s 34-yard line, the Gators had their first opportunity to extend their lead; instead, (1 – players) freshman quarterback Treon Harris fumbled after converting a third down.

A fourth-down stop at midfield gave Florida its second chance to extend the lead, and though the Gators were unable to move the ball, a perfect punt from senior Kyle Christy (downed inside the USC two) put UF in great position again.

The Gators’ defense earned the offense another possession, but (2 – coaches) Florida chose not to throw the ball a single time, settling for a 32-yard field goal attempt after stalling at the Gamecocks’ 15 following six-straight runs. That attempt was (3 – players) blocked as redshirt senior kicker Frankie Velez booted the ball low and South Carolina got great penetration through the line.

Another fourth-down stop by the Gators’ defense – at the Florida 41 with 2:22 to play – not only gave UF the ball back but allowed the hosts to run out the clock as long as they could achieve a first down (as USC had a timeout in its pocket). Instead, the Gators (4 – coaches) ran the ball thrice more – including on 3rd and 3 for a loss of five yards – and settled on allowing Christy to boot the ball down the field with 39 seconds remaining. That did not go so well for Florida, as (5 – players) Christy’s punt was blocked, giving South Carolina one last possession on the UF 34.

“We were in a look that we should have kicked it out the other way and we didn’t, as far as the protection was concerned,” Muschamp said. “They came free on it and we needed to get the ball of quicker. That was a situation where that shouldn’t have happened.”

The Gamecocks scored, forcing overtime. South Carolina then won the coin toss, declaring that it was up to Florida to try and score a touchdown on its first overtime possession. The Gators were unable to do so, (6 – coaches) predictably running on first and second down and then (7 – coaches) throwing behind the line of scrimmage on 3rd and 3. UF’s 35-yard field goal, off the leg of redshirt sophomore Austin Hardin, went through the uprights but was not enough as USC drove right down the field for the game-winning touchdown to clinch the overtime victory.

After the loss, Muschamp did not directly answer a question about Florida’s overly-conservative play-calling but did not think it mattered when it came to the game’s result.

“We felt like we just tried to continue to… We put ourselves in a position to win that game, bottom line. You don’t get the punt blocked, you win the game. That’s the bottom line. We did what we had to do to win the game. We put ourselves in the position and we didn’t get it done,” he said.

“WE HAD EVERY OPPORTUNITY TO WIN”

With Saturday’s loss, the Gators have now dropped 14 of their last 27 games, a striking number considering Urban Meyer only lost 15 total contests in his six years at Florida.

UF is also 5-11 dating back to Oct. 12, 2013 with six losses in its last eight games in The Swamp, including four to SEC opponents (two on homecoming), one to an FCS team in Georgia Southern, and another to rival Florida State.

Overall, the Gators are just 17-8 at The Swamp under Muschamp, 9-7 combined against SEC teams and FSU with periods of three consecutive losses at Florida Field in each of the last two seasons.

Simply put, it’s unacceptable, especially when two of Florida’s defeats this year came exceptionally late in games the Gators otherwise should have won. Muschamp acknowledged that in his post-game press conference, responding, “Yeah, LSU,” when asked what other game in his career he was shocked to lose after being sure his team would pull out a victory.

“3:30 to play in the game and you get two kicks blocked, that’ll lose you a football game. We had every opportunity to win,” he said to open up his presser.

“You get two blocked kicks with 3:30 to go play in the game, it’ll cost you a football game. I don’t know what else to say other than that. We got 40 seconds to go, just get the ball off; operation time issue on the field goal and a low kick – it didn’t matter what the operation time was, it would’ve been blocked anyway.

“Very disappointed to lose that football game. Our guys fought and played hard, put ourselves in the position to get it done and we didn’t get it done.”

Florida no longer has anything to play for except pride this season. The Gators’ outside chances of winning the SEC East burst into flames, and while Florida can (and most likely will) become bowl eligible if it beats Eastern Kentucky next weekend on Senior Day, it now appears unlikely that Muschamp will be coaching the team when it plays in that game. He, of course, feels otherwise.

“I’m going to coach this football team. We’ll move on and get ready for the next one. That’s what I’ll do and that’s what our staff will do and our team will do. I’ll let [the media] speculate [about my job],” he said.

Asked what the Gators have left to play for, Muschamp responded: “You’re playing for the University of Florida, and you keep playing hard.”

The problem? Muschamp is asking the men he commands to play hard when he has proven over and again not to trust half of them – those on offense – to get the job done when it matters the most, at the end of games. It’s a philosophy that contributed to UF’s loss on Saturday and may ultimately wind up costing him his job.

35 Comments

  1. Bill says:

    Kill it Foley. Kill it with fire

  2. Michael Jones says:

    Well said. Champ’s offensive philosophy of playing not to lose is the reason why the offenses that our new offensive coordinators run when they get here bear no resemblance to the offenses of the schools where they came from.

    As long as he is the head coach, we could have Mike Shanahan, Norv Turner, Mike Leach, Steve Spurrier or Bill Walsh as our offensive coordinator. It wouldn’t matter. Our offense would still look the same.

    That’s why it really sucked when he threw Brent Pease under the bus to keep his job, instead of manning-up and owning it.

  3. apprentice says:

    Heads up fellow Gators! Short term pain is necessary for long term progress. All these losses should serve to get rid of what ails us (Coach Will Muschamp). It’s better to have a bright future, than to enjoy some faux short-term success (like that mirage of a win over Georgia) and be stuck with this ineffective coach for a few more years.

  4. Razzlegator says:

    I lived through the 0-10-1 season(went to most of the home games). I don’t remember being this despondent then. Of course I was drinking a lot more then. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm……………

    • Bill Longworth says:

      Hah! I feel your pain, brother. Can’t remember ever having lived through four more painful seasons to watch. Even when we won, it often felt like a loss.

  5. Bill says:

    What offensive player would want to play for him?

    Any of you idiots who jumped off the fire muschamp bandwagon aren’t welcome back. Go down with your p—- coach

  6. scroud says:

    And not just the OC, Muschamp is making Harris look like Driskel. If you only throw ten passes in a game, how much rhythm can you have? And why was he running it so much, Driskel is bigger and fast, but didn’t run anywhere near that much, are you saying this is Roper’s plan, it’s bizarre.
    I have to believe the game is over for Muschamp, the offense has been too woeful for too long. He seems to have an offensive mindset from the 1970’s.
    I agree we have to cut the cord now before we lose all our recruits, if it’s not already too late. Things are looking very dark right now.
    Oh well, at least the basketball team looks good.

    • Nick says:

      Good point! Didn’t realize what he was/is doing to Harris, but I bet the people advising high school QB’s with the potential to become good to great college QB’s know what will happen to a Muschamp QB. Samething applies to receivers, backs, linemen. Wonder what WM actually told Roper to get him here?

  7. G8rB8 says:

    I watched the second half and knew we would lose because I told my wife he’s calling not to lose instead of going to win. Spurrier sit on a 7 point lead for a half? You think urban would have? Hell Ron Zook probably wouldn’t have. And ya’ll are right. The problem all along wasn’t the offensive coordinator it was the head coach. It’s time for a change. Gator nation is sick of being sick from August to January

  8. UFGATORFAN100 says:

    I agree Bill basically this guy has no it factor no intensity when it comes to putting your Foot down their throats… you should have won this game by 14 points minimum the conservative play calling the tentative 4th Quarter decisions cost US this game

    PS that’s how he coaches not to lose he doesn’t coach to put the foot down their throats when he smells blood….. Meyer Saban Spurrier are coaches who smell Blood and go for the Kill

  9. Razzlegator says:

    I want my money back Adam. This place has degenerated. I’ll never darken your door again; If I get my money back. Pro rate it.

  10. Bill says:

    Blessing in disguise

  11. Bill says:

    @ByronHawkStar99: Didn’t get to see muschamp… #Bruh

    Ummmmmm…..this better be because he is fired. Because if he isn’t the this is a fireable offense.
    No wonder the chump can’t land any 5 stars.

  12. boston_gator says:

    Good article Adam. As usual. Check paragraph that starts “Leading 17-0 entering the fourth quarter”. s/b 17-10

  13. Just Want A Change says:

    Adam,

    I know their are reports about Shannahan, but is he a legitimate candidate? And do you honestly think Muschamp will be fired this week?

    • No. No. No reason not to let him finish out the season at this point. A Muschamp-coached Florida has a better chance of beating FSU than any assistant leading the charge. It’s too late in the season to make a move. UF can still finish 7-4 (w/ that FSU win).

  14. Just Want A Change says:

    Adam, would he keep his job if he beat FSU and finished 7-4?

    And do you think we need an offensive minded coach for a HC or do we just need someone who isn’t conservative?

    • I kind of think it’s too far gone now for him to keep his job…but if they’re undefeated and he wins? Maybe, I guess.

      Florida needs a head coach. Spurrier and Meyer were head coaches. Doesn’t have to be offensive-minded. Meyer was special teams-minded but understood the importance of a high-powered offense and taking chances.

      • Bill says:

        Meter also understood that recruiting is the most important part of building a program and out recruiting fsu, uga, etc is a must if you want to be successful. He embraced rivalries instead of acting like it’s just another game. He got college football

  15. Just Want A Change says:

    Adam, I have read so many names, but honestly in your opinion, what guys are legitimate candidates?

  16. Just Want A Change says:

    Fair enough, Adam, thanks for answering my questions.

  17. Jared says:

    isnt it time we allow a team at least one review specifically for pass interference calls? Too many terrible game altering calls. And why wasn’t the qb fumble to start fourth quarter (ruled down) not reviewed. Obvious fumble and would have been returned for a td if not for these terrible refs.

    • Michael Jones says:

      Actually we benefited from a bogus PI call at the end of the 1st half as well. I thought they evened out.

  18. Ken (CA) says:

    Great take on it all, however, have you heard talk aside from Foley’s “we will evaluate at the end of the season” comments? You seem fairly certain WM will be fired in the next day or two

    • Bill says:

      I won’t believe he’s going to be fired until it happens. If he could survive last year he can survive anything. He’s like a roach

  19. 5wideU says:

    Again … what’s would be the purpose of firing him now ? The regular season is over in two weeks. What difference does it make whether you do it now or in 2 weeks ? If anything, keeping him on for FSU gives him one last desperation game (ala UGA) to try and get a win. Don’t think it would be enough to keep the job but It would be awesome to knock them down even though the chances are remote. Our defense may give us a chance though.

  20. W says:

    I agree that you keep him until after the FSU game. Win or lose, fire him that next week and let Roper or Durkin coach the bowl game, crappy as it may be.

    But the FSU team we’ve seen the last few weeks is beatable. We’re going in there on Nov. 29 with nothing to lose, and FSU gains nothing by beating us. I hope (but doubt) that we come out guns blazing and pull out all the stops to try and ruin FSU’s season, because I think we’re capable. They’re very, very beatable.

  21. GatorOne says:

    Muschamp’s “win by 1” philosophy has given just about every opponent a chance to beat us, and in those situations, most have. Not only is this philosophy a recipe for disaster, it is unwatchable football. Unfortunately, not firing Muschamp after the Georgia Southern last year has set our program back years in talent recruitment. Not only are we struggling to attract recruits this year, but the recruits we missed out on at the end of the recruiting cycle last year were big misses – anyone notice who played a major role in the ‘miles victory last night?! Florida has become irrelevant in college football, and unfortunately, I think it’s going to take a while to right this ship. That being said, I’ll remain a Gator until the day I die. Chomp! Chomp!

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