The Florida Gators (4-7) lost their sixth-straight on Saturday, dropping their first game to an FCS opponent in program history and guaranteeing a losing season for the first time since going winless in 1979. The Georgia Southern Eagles (7-4) upended the Gators 26-20 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL, dominating both sides of the ball on the way to their first-ever victory against an FBS program.
Following his team’s loss, the worst in program history, Florida head coach Will Muschamp met with the media to provide some of his thoughts on the defeat.
Though Muschamp has made a habit in the past of taking accountability and putting pressure on his own shoulders following a loss, he did exactly opposite on Saturday – even if there were times in which he squeezed in similar phrasing.
After the game, Muschamp criticized Florida’s offense, which was led by a third-string quarterback in redshirt freshman Skyler Mornhinweg but nevertheless only generated 279 total yards and 20 points on the afternoon.
“You got to change the scoreboard offensively. You got to be able to change the scoreboard. We’ve just struggled scoring points offensively. It’s been a week-in, week-out occurrence. My job to get it fixed and it will get fixed,” he said.
“Very disappointed for our program, an embarrassment in this situation. We had our opportunities there, the kids kept playing hard. It’s very difficult for us to create explosive plays to get anything down the field. Just don’t ever do it.”
Asked to pinpoint the Gators’ offensive struggles, Muschamp explained that there was no one thing wrong with it but rather the entire side of the ball was failing as a whole. Should he somehow remain Florida’s coach after this season, Muschamp has certainly set up his offensive staff to take the fall.
“Where do you start? From a protection standpoint, the run game, being able to consistently run the ball, move the front. It’s been an occurrence really for us all season for the most part,” he said. “We just have a hard time in protection. We hit the play-action pass where the quarterback got his chin splattered when he threw the ball, too.
“It’s a combination of things. It’s just hard right now. It’s hard, as many moving parts as we’ve had, it’s difficult. It becomes infectious. It’s hard. When you give up 17 points, you hope you can score 17. So it’s hard right now. You can look at where we’ve rolled since about middle of the season to this point. That’s what’s happened to us.”
Nevermind that UF offense, indeed with a third-string signal caller and an incredibly banged up offensive line, managed to generate 20 points while the team’s defense coughed up 26 to Georgia Southern via 429 yards of total offense.
The Eagles did not complete a single pass in the game yet still outgained the Gators by 150 yards on the afternoon. Muschamp explained why Florida’s defense failed but still managed to circle things back to the offense.
“Defensively when you stop teams like this, you get them feeling uncomfortable about what they’re doing. You got to get them out of their game of what they do, and we just never could do it in a sense to put the pressure where they feel like they’ve got to do some different things offensively,” he said.
“We’re going to get it fixed. We just got to keep working at what we’re doing. We’re just struggling offensively and it’s infected our entire team right now. That’s the struggle we’ve got.”
INJURY AND STATUS UPDATES
As if the loss was not bad enough, the Gators suffered another rash of injuries during Saturday’s game led by redshirt junior linebacker Michael Taylor hurting his MCL and already being ruled out of the season finale against Florida State.
Both freshman LB Alex Anzalone and senior LB Darrin Kitchens hurt their shoulders in the game. Anzalone dislocated his and did not return, but Kitchen’s ailment was not specified and he did come back to the field.
Junior cornerback Marcus Roberson (ankle) missed the game, as did sophomore defensive end Jonathan Bullard, who practiced until Wednesday but sat out with an undisclosed injury.
Redshirt junior QB Tyler Murphy (shoulder) was also unavailable but still has an outside chance to return before the Gators take on the Seminoles. “He had a lot of discomfort in his shoulder,” Muschamp said. “I’m not ruling him out for next week at this point though.”
Also before the game, Florida announced that freshman wide receiver Demarcus Robinson had been suspended for the remainder of the regular season (two games) for a violation of team rules. Asked why specifically Robinson was suspended, Muschamp said the player needs to start “acting right.”
HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS
» Florida lost a game to an FCS opponent for the first time in program history (previously 15-0), while Georgia Southern defeated an FBS team for the first time in its school history (previously 0-20).
» GSU was the third unranked opponent UF has lost to this season. The Gators were previously 18-1 under Muschamp against such teams.
» Florida has gained more than 150 yards rushing in consecutive weeks but lost both games. UF was previously 15-0 under Muschamp when that occurred.
» The Gators also lost for the second-straight week after leading at the half. It was just the third time under Muschamp that has happened. UF was previously 18-1 in that situation.
» After failing to register a turnover in consecutive weeks, Florida picked up two fumbles on Saturday against Georgia Southern.
» Saturday was the first time a Gators’ opponent did not complete a pass in a game (since at least 1976).
» Florida has not won a football game in 45 days dating back to Oct. 5.
» Injuries were not the reason for UF’s loss. GSU had 19-of-63 scholarship players out due to injury.
» The Gators suffered their first home non-conference loss to a team other than Florida State or Miami since 1988 (vs. Mississippi State).
» The 429 rushing yards Florida allowed to Georgia Southern was the fourth-most in school history and most since 1996.
» Freshman running back Kelvin Taylor eclipsed 90 yards rushing for the second-straight week, giving him 188 over the last two games. He also registered a career-long 33-yard rush.
» Senior wide receiver Solomon Patton had his second two-touchdown game of the season. His 69 receiving yards were fourth-most in a game this season and the most he’s had since picking up 124 in UF’s last win against Arkansas on Oct. 5. He also had a 54-yard kick return.
» Mornhinweg threw the first two touchdown passes of his career but went just 14-for-24 with a number of near-interceptions.
» Redshirt junior WR Quinton Dunbar has caught pass in a school-record 27 consecutive games.
NOTES AND QUOTES
» On the option negating talent: “That’s what the option does – takes talent out of the game. You don’t have to block Dante Fowler now; you option off Dante Fowler so you don’t have to account him anymore in blocking. That’s why the service academies run it. That’s why they run it. That’s why a lot of these schools run it because it takes talent out of the equation. … Talent is negated in that situation. It doesn’t really matter because you don’t’ have to block a lot of the guys. … When you play teams like that, you don’t have to block certain guys, you know? That’s just what that offense does to you. It’s all about responsibility, assignment, and then you got to defeat a block in some situations. … That’s why those teams run that. That’s what it is.”
» On calling a timeout with the clock stopped on 3rd-and-2 late in the fourth quarter: “We had three guys gassed at receiver. Looking up at that situation. You still had a timeout. It was a 3rd-and-2 at the time, you get the first down the clock’s stopping anyway. You’re at 14 seconds. The timeout at that time didn’t matter. It was downs more than anything else.”
» On what’s worse, failing to advance to a bowl game or clinching UF’s first losing season since 1979: “It’s all disappointing. It’s really hard to measure it at this point. Very disappointed and got to get it fixed. We will.”
» On what he told the players in the locker room: “You take ownership of where we are. Ain’t nobody needs to point a finger right now. It’s time to look in the mirror. I’ve told them that on several occasions this season. Regardless of the season or the circumstances, we need to produce better, and it starts with me. So that’s what we’ll do.”
@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