The Florida Gators (4-6, 3-5 SEC) lost their fifth-straight game on Saturday, dropping five in a row in a single season for the first time since 1979, by falling 19-14 to the No. 10/11 South Carolina Gamecocks (8-2, 6-2 SEC) on the road at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, SC. Following his team’s loss, Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media to provide some of his thoughts on the defeat.
“Very proud of our guys’ effort. We followed the script of what we felt like we needed to do to win the game and that was ball possession, field position, eat the clock, play good defense – which we did for the most part through the night against a very good offensive football team. Extremely proud of our players and the way they’ve continued to fight in the game.
“A lot of negativity out there and these guys pulled together and showed you a little something what those guys are about. We need to make some plays in those situations to win the game. The bottom line is winning and we didn’t do it. We did not get the job done. So that’s on me. We’ll go back and continue to work hard and get these last two. We’re looking forward to that. …
“I’m extremely proud of our staff and our players of pulling together, trying to put ourselves in a position to win the game on the road against a very good football team. We just got to come up with a couple of those plays here and there. … We have our opportunities we got to make the plays and that’s on me. We got to keep working.”
FRUSTRATED MUSCHAMP TELLS FANS: “GET A GRIP”
Suffice to say, Muschamp was fired up at halftime Florida took a 14-6 advantage into the locker room. Asked after the game while his hand was all bloody and taped up, Muschamp explained, “I hit a chalkboard. Dumb.”
— Steve Johnson (@journo2go) November 17, 2013
Following the loss, Muschamp was asked about his team’s grit and toughness while going up against a ranked team with a third-string quarterback and a number of other replacement players due to injuries suffered by the Gators throughout the season.
“It’s not excuses. It’s real. It really is,” he said. “You can say what you want to say and you can write whatever the hell you want to write. It’s real. It’s frustrating. It’s frustrating for that locker room. To hell with me. I worry about the kids. These kids have fought their butts off.
“There’s a lot of negativity out there and some of our fans need to get a grip. They really do. They got a bunch of kids in that locker room fighting their butt off. They can criticize me all you want, I’m great with that, they pay me enough money to deal with that. But those kids don’t, they really don’t. And they’ve fought their butts off. And they’ve continued to fight and play hard.
“Nobody’s ever questioned their efforts. I’m just extremely proud of them and the resolve and the fight and pulling together like Florida Gators do. Extremely proud of them. We just didn’t get it done. That’s on me, that’s my fault, nobody else’s.”
APPRECIATIVE OF THE ADMINISTRATION
On Wednesday, Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley and president Bernie Machen released statements of unequivocal support for Muschamp and the job he is currently doing with the Gators football program. Given the opportunity to respond in kind, Muschamp did just that publicly.
“I’m very appreciate of Jeremy and Dr. Machen. Thank goodness I have two guys that see the big picture and understand where we’re headed with the program, where we were, in a two-year period what we’ve accomplished, and understand the circumstances we’re in right now and more than anything where we’re headed,” he said.
An example of the “circumstances we’re in right now?” Muschamp said Friday that only 51 players traveled to Columbia (a travel roster can consist of up to 70) and noted another interesting fact, too.
“We’ve had one starter play the same position [on the offensive line] for nine games,” he said. “It’s difficult. It’s hard. It’s not an excuse. It’s real.”
For those reasons and others, Muschamp is pleased to have the support of UF’s administration even while fans are quickly turning their backs on him.
“They’re in the day-to-day operation. It’s very rewarding to have a strong athletic director and a strong president that’s willing to stand up and fight for what’s right. And I appreciate that very much,” Muschamp added.
HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS
» Florida still holds a 24-7-3 advantage in the all-time series against South Carolina, having won 19 of the last 23 meetings between the programs. Spurrier is now 4-5 against the Gators as head coach of the Gamecocks but has won three of the last four showdowns.
» With the loss on Saturday, UF dropped five-straight games during a single regular season for the first time since 1979. Florida was winless that season.
» The Gators lost for the first time under Muschamp when rushing for more than 150 yards (previously 15-0) and the second time when leading at the half (previously 18-1).
» Florida failed to gain a turnover for the second consecutive game. UF entered last week’s contest having forced a turnover in 19-straight games.
» The Gators amassed more rushing yards in the first half than it did in any complete game since Kentucky on Sept. 28.
» Florida has not started the same five players along offensive line in more than one game this season.
» Freshman running back Kelvin Taylor registered a career-high 96 yards on 21 carries and scored two touchdowns. He now has four on the season.
» Redshirt junior RB Mack Brown broke off a career-long 32-yard run in the second quarter. He finished with 11 touches for 51 yards.
» Skyler Mornhinweg was the 11th freshman to start at quarterback for Florida but just the second to take his first career snap as the Gators’ starter (Jacoby Brissett, 2011).
» Two freshmen – cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III and linebacker Jarrad Davis – were named captains ahead of the game.
» The Gators picked up six tackles for loss in the game, four quarterback hurries and two sacks. Redshirt junior LB Michael Taylor and redshirt freshman defensive back Brian Poole led the way with eight tackles each.
NOTES AND QUOTES
» On how Mornhinweg fared in his first start: “Very proud of him, you know? I just told him to cut it loose and have fun. We put a lot on him as far as asking him to do a bunch of different things. … I thought he did a really good job of managing.”
» On the seriousness of redshirt junior QB Tyler Murphy’s shoulder injury: “He’s not out for the season. Tyler’s a guy that didn’t take many reps at all this week, any reps. … He’s not out for the season. I don’t know about this week. He’s got a sore shoulder, AC sprain, very similar to what he had before. It’s all about timing and healing, and I don’t know yet.”
» On deciding to run the fake punt that ultimately failed late in the fourth quarter: “We just needed to get something going. I thought it was there. It was. Got to make a play. Felt like we would hit it. We had it open. Should’ve hit it. Didn’t get it done. I just felt like we needed some momentum. … I just felt like we needed a little charge at that time. We hit it, you’re at midfield there, you got you a chance.”
» On Taylor showing out in the first half: “He’s ran very well. He really has. He’s ran very well in his opportunities. He continues to mature at the position, carries himself very well. He’s got really good vision and very good initial quickness in the hole. … The power plays is probably his best run, that and the inside zone because he’s got really good vision for the cutback on the backside.”
» On junior cornerback Marcus Roberson being suspended for the game: “Marcus was out this week but he had an ankle. I don’t know that he would’ve played anyway. I’ll meet with him Monday.”
@ONLYGATORS TWEET OF THE GAME
You have to do things to go out and win a game like this. Running on 3rd-and-G from the 8 is not one of those things. Listen to Herm Edwards
— OnlyGators.com (@onlygators) November 17, 2013