Reports: Muschamp returning as Gators coach in 2014 but changes to UF coaching staff ahead

The 1,000 percent confidence athletic director Jeremy Foley claimed to have in head coach Will Muschamp two weeks ago apparently remains unchanged despite the Florida Gators suffering the worst loss in program history on Saturday after falling 26-20 to Georgia Southern, the first FCS school to ever defeat Florida.

RELATED Column: Foley sticks neck out for Muschamp, puts legacy on line

On Sunday, citing a “source close to the program,” the Orlando Sentinel reported that Muschamp’s job was safe even though “significant changes to [his] coaching staff are expected after Saturday’s season finale against Florida State.”

Those substantial adjustments will likely be made to the offensive side of the ball with offensive coordinator Brent Pease the main assistant on the hot seat.

Muschamp on Saturday strongly criticized the Gators’ performance on offense both in that loss and over the last few weeks.

Continue Reading » Reports: Muschamp returning as Gators coach in 2014 but changes to UF coaching staff ahead

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11/23: Florida vs. Georgia Southern post-game report; Muschamp places blame on Gators offense

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.

DEFLECTING BLAME

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.

Continue Reading » 11/23: Florida vs. Georgia Southern post-game report; Muschamp places blame on Gators offense

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Georgia Southern deals Florida worst loss in program history as Eagles top Gators 26-20

Already seemingly at rock bottom, the Florida Gators (4-7) on Saturday fell even deeper into a pit of despair, losing their sixth-straight while dropping a game to an FCS opponent for the first time in school history as the Georgia Southern Eagles (7-4) pulled off a 26-20 upset victory at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL.

The Eagles, set to join the FBS as a member of the Sun Belt Conference next season, earned their first-ever victory against an FBS opponent (previously 0-20). UF dropped its first-ever game to an FCS team and was outgained 429-279 on the afternoon despite the visitors not completing a single pass during the game.

Florida opened up with the football and immediately drove it down the field, picking up 63 yards on 13 plays before settling for a 27-yard field goal to take an early 3-0 lead. Freshman running back Kelvin Taylor accounted for 54 of those yards on eight carries.

The Gators found themselves with another scoring opportunity just moments later after the Eagles muffed a punt and gave UF great field position the 25-yard line. Florida moved the ball 17 yards on four plays but had redshirt junior walk-on kicker Frankie Velez 34-yard field goal blocked.

It did not take long for UF to earn another short field. On GSU’s first play of its ensuing drive, RB Johnathan Bryant fumbled the ball. Gators junior defensive back Jabari Gorman forced the fumble, and redshirt junior linebacker Michael Taylor jumped on top of it for the recovery.

Continue Reading » Georgia Southern deals Florida worst loss in program history as Eagles top Gators 26-20

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Replacing Charlie Weis as offensive coordinator

With the surprise resignation of Florida Gators offensive coordinator Charlie Weis, who decided to take the head coaching job with the Kansas Jayhawks on Thursday, still the big news of the day, one of the major questions arising is a simple one: Who will replace him? OGGOA has complied a list of candidates who could replace Weis:

Kerwin Bell
Head Coach – Jacksonville Dolphins

Hire him: Bell is almost everything Florida is looking for in an offensive coordinator. He’s talented, runs a pro-style offense at Jacksonville, has professional experience as a player (four years in the NFL, four in the CFL) and coach (two years as offensive coordinator of the Toronto Argonauts) and is a Florida alumnus who was a quarterback on the Gators football team from 1983-87. His JU team features a strong down-field passing game but is also balanced with a solid running attack. Bell told The Gainesville Sun directly that he would be interested in returning to Florida, and a source close to him told OGGOA Thursday evening that he would listen to any offer head coach Will Muschamp might have for him. With orange and blue coursing through his veins, Bell would be loyal to the program and would have no designs on leaving anytime soon.

Hold up: Despite his success both with Toronto (2000-01) and Jacksonville (2007-present), Bell is relatively inexperienced as a college football coach. He spent six years as the top man at Trinity Catholic High School between the two jobs and is currently a coach in the FCS, which is a far cry from the SEC. Weis had total control over Florida’s offense, and it remains to be seen if Muschamp (inexperienced in his own right as a head coach) would be comfortable giving Bell that same power.

Brian White
Running Backs Coach – Florida Gators

Hire him: One of the most experienced coaches currently on staff, White has been an offensive coordinator before during his time at Wisconsin and has been a part of two national championship teams. He is one of the Gators’ best recruiters and is multiple on offense, already proving his ability to coach up running backs and tight ends at Florida. (He also coached quarterbacks and wide receivers at UNLV.) White is well-known and trusted by the players considering he is one of two holdovers remaining from Urban Meyer’s regime and has been with the team since 2009. He could be the safest move in terms of continuity, especially in recruiting where he has excelled during his time at UF.

Hold up: Though he has served previously as both an offensive coordinator and passing game coordinator, White has not called plays since 2007. He will have what may be considered a tryout at the 2012 Gator Bowl, where he will temporarily take over for Weis as Muschamp looks to make a permanent decision on a future offensive coordinator. White is also not the “sexiest” candidate – he has absolutely no NFL coaching experience, something that Muschamp appeared to lean on with his first staff.

Bell and White individually may each be capable of running the Gators’ offense, but hiring co-offensive coordinators is not out of the realm of possibility for Muschamp. Bell (quarterbacks) and White (running backs) each specialize in a different area of the offense and could serve as passing game coordinator and running game coordinator, respectively. Florida had co-defensive coordinators under Meyer with Greg Mattison and Charlie Strong, and the defense was the backbone of the team while both were on staff. Expect Muschamp to give this idea serious consideration as Bell would love to return to the Gators but would likely want more than a “quarterbacks coach” title and White will feel he is deserving of additional responsibilities (and money) considering his work ethic and experience.

Al Borges
Offensive Coordinator – Michigan Wolverines

Hire him: Currently helping turn around Michigan, Borges has served as a college offensive coordinator for 25 years, getting his start back in 1986. He spent four years with Auburn (2004-07), crossing paths with Muschamp during his final two years with the team. When you talk about experience – Borges has it – and his pro-style offense has proven that it can be tailored to utilize speed and quickness.

Hold up: Another candidate without professional experience, Borges’s resume should be enough to overcome that. However, he just took the Wolverines job this year and – considering that offense is on the upswing – probably won’t be too inclined to change jobs after one year. Although he has been an offensive coordinator for a quarter century, he has done it at nine different stops and spent two years or less at five of them, only staying at Portland State, UCLA and Auburn long-term.

Stan Hixon
Wide Receivers Coach – Buffalo Bills

Hire him: He has never served as an offensive coordinator, but it might be time for the 54-year-old to take a step up to the next level. With coaching experience on both levels (14 years in college, 13 in the NFL), Hixon moves on at will and picks his poison. He worked at LSU for four years (three alongside Muschamp) and has plenty of experience both coaching in the SEC and recruiting top-tier players. He left that job to take one with the Washington Redskins, where he stuck for seven years, and has spent the last two coaching pass catchers with the Buffalo Bills (under head coach Chain Gailey – former UF player and GA). Hixon was born in Lakeland, FL and could see Florida as a great opportunity. He is well-known for getting the most out of unknown players and helping them reach their full potential.

Hold up: Hixon has never been an offensive coordinator. He hasn’t called plays for any extensive period of time and has not coached in college in nearly a decade. Some position coaches remain such for a reason, and Hixon may have turned down offensive coordinator opportunities in the past in order to concentrate on the job he does best.

Bobby Williams
Tight Ends/Special Teams Coach – Alabama Crimson Tide

Hire him: Another coach with a history alongside Muschamp (at LSU and the Miami Dolphins), Williams has served under Nick Saban for seven years coaching wide receivers, running backs and tight ends. He was a head coach for three years at Michigan State (beat Florida 37-34 in the 2000 Citrus Bowl) and has extensive SEC recruiting experience. Williams’s versatility is a major plus.

Hold up: Like Hixon, Williams has never been an offensive coordinator and play caller, but his time as a head coach adds another level of experience. His loyalty to Saban is obvious and many believe the chances of him leaving his side are not good.

Paul Chryst
Offensive Coordinator – Wisconsin Badgers

Hire him: Considered one of the best offensive coordinators in the game right now, Chryst would be a huge hire for Muschamp and the Gators. He’s had immense success with Wisconsin and would do great as the “head coach of the offense” with total control over the unit.

Hold up: Chryst has been a candidate for head coaching jobs and may be unlikely to move from Wisconsin unless it is to run his own program. Florida is undoubtedly a step up but probably not enough of a difference for him to move across the country. A year or two of immense success with the Gators could springboard him to a top job, but he is doing fine up north and may be able to pick his spot sooner than later staying put.

Scott Linehan, Brian Schottenheimer, Mike Mularkey
Offensive Coordinators – NFL

Breakdown: Linehan, Scottenheimer and Mularkey all have connections to the program but each has his own reason for not giving much thought to the Florida job. Linehan, who was offensive coordinator under Saban with the Dolphins while Muschamp was there, is leading a burgeoning unit with the Detroit Lions and is unlikely to leave a secure job and take a cut in pay unless he really wants to get back into the college game. Mularkey, a former Gators tight end, has never coached at the college level and is closer to a NFL head coaching job as current offensive coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons than he is to leaving the team and going to Florida. Schottenheimer, currently the New York Jets’ offensive coordinator, was a backup quarterback under Steve Spurrier at UF but also has no college coaching or recruiting experience. He would be the most likely out of the three to have any interest in the job considering he is heavily criticized as Jets’ offensive coordinator and could be on the outs up in New York.

Steve Spurrier, Jr.
Wide Receivers Coach – South Carolina Gamecocks

Hire him: Spurrier, Jr. has been a WR coach at Oklahoma and Arizona and spent time working under his father at Florida, with the Redskins and now at South Carolina. He played college football at Duke and got his master’s degree at UF. He may feel it is finally time to step out of his father’s shadow and up into an offensive coordinator job, and returning home could be especially sweet for him.

Hold up: According to a number of people – including his father – Spurrier Jr. is not ready to be an offensive coordinator. He’s had opportunities to call plays and lead the offense at USC only to have his father demote him back to WR coach and call the plays himself. He probably won’t be a legitimate candidate, but you never know.

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Transferring not Brantley’s only viable option

After new Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp concluded his introductory press conference Tuesday, the media surrounded a few players – including redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley – to gauge their impressions of the new man in charge.

However, when it came to Brantley, the real question of the evening was whether or not he would transfer after the 2011 Outback Bowl on Jan. 1.

“I’m sure we will still talk about it,” said Brantley, giving an indication for the first time that transferring is a legitimate option for him. “We have a little relationship with coach Muschamp from when I was committed to Texas, so we’ll definitely see what happens. [Hiring Muschamp] definitely changes a lot, but we’re going to have some conversation and figure this thing out.”

Later Brantley did a quick interview with ESPN and gave a similar statement. “I’m still going to sit down with my family after this bowl game,” he said. “I think coach Muschamp is a great coach and he’s going to have a great staff come in here. But I’m still going to sit down with my family and talk about things.”

Though he did not mention it on Tuesday, Brantley has a third road he can go down in addition to returning to Florida or transferring to another school. That road goes to the NFL and will certainly be a consideration when he meets with his family.

Think about Brantley’s options for a second. He can start over with the Gators under Muschamp and a currently unnamed offensive coordinator who will ideally install a pro-style offense, transfer to a FCS program and try to raise his draft stock, transfer to another FBS program (he will graduate and be eligible to do so without sitting out), or simply head for greener pastures now and hope he performs well enough to be drafted in a later round or catch on somewhere as an undrafted free agent with upside.

Staying at Florida is probably Brantley’s best bet – give the new coach a chance and see what happens. He would have the inside track at the starting job and the ability to shine if one is to believe that offensive coordinator Steve Addazio and the offensive schemes are to blame. (Obviously Brantley’s poor play was a lot of his own doing as well.)

Transferring could work, but for every Joe Flacco (went to Pittsburgh, transferred to Delaware, drafted No. 18 overall in the 2008 NFL Draft) there are dozens of quarterbacks who make the same decision and whom you either never hear from again or still end up going undrafted when their NCAA eligibility expires. Brantley has to consider whether he would be in the minority or the majority in that scenario.

The NFL, however, gives Brantley another option: forget college. He can wipe his hands of the spread offense or the spread-to-pro-style hybrid that may be in place with the Gators next year. He wouldn’t have to worry about starting fresh elsewhere for one year (Flacco had two years at Delaware). Instead he can concentrate on his mechanics, train hard and try to “wow” scouts into believing that his struggles were all his team’s fault.

Taking the later route may be the most difficult. Perhaps Brantley doesn’t great drafted until the third day – if at all. Maybe he has to work his way up from the practice squad. But a respite at another school could end up doing nothing for him – maybe his stats get inflated and he performs better, but will he actually improve as a player?

No matter what Brantley decides, head coach Urban Meyer stepping down provided him with more options than he would have had if he stayed. Sticking around at Florida is probably his best choice, but his opportunities are not limited as limited as they could be.

Photo Credit: Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

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Week 12: Florida Gators vs. App. St. Mountaineers

Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 88,548]
Weather Forecast: 76°F, clear skies
Time: 12:30 p.m. (EST)

TV: PPV [Information]
TV Replays: Sun Sports – Sun., Nov. 21 at 8:30 a.m.; Tues., Nov. 23 at 11:00 p.m.
Online Video: ESPN3.com (Outside of Florida only.)
Sirius/XM: 215/200
Online Audio: Yahoo!
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

FLORIDA GATORS APP. STATE MOUNTAINEERS
Head Coach: Urban Meyer Head Coach: Jerry Moore
Record: 6-4 Record: 9-1
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southern (FCS)
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -23.5

HISTORY and STREAKS

» Florida and Appalachian State have never squared off before, but the Gators are 24-2 all-time against Southern Conference opponents.
» Since 2005, UF and ASU have combined for five national championships. The Gators have won two FBS titles (2006, 2008), while the Mountaineers have captured three-straight FCS championships (2005-07).
» Florida has faced three FCS schools since 2006, beating them a combined 194-22. However Appalachian State is easily the best of the bunch, having won six-straight conference titles (2005-10) under Moore’s leadership.
» UF is tied for the national lead with 17 interceptions on the season. Seven have been returned for more than 30 yards – three for touchdowns.
» Florida is back out of the BCS, Associated Press and USA Today top 25 after returning to the rankings two weeks ago. This season is the first time the Gators have been unranked in all three under Meyer. Florida had been listed in every poll since he took over in 2005 until they lost to Mississippi State three weeks ago.
» The Gators’ offense has seen 15 different players overall score a touchdown this year – including defense and special teams.
» Florida is the only school in the nation that has four players with at least three interceptions. Overall, eight Gators have at least one interception.
» UF under Meyer is 41-1 when holding an opponent under 16 points, 29-3 when shutting an opponent out in the fourth quarter, 38-3 when holding an opponent to 35 percent or less on third down, 38-2 when giving up two or less big plays (15-yard run/25-yard pass) and 33-3 when the Gators defense scores or creates three turnovers.
» Florida redshirt senior guard Carl Johnson and sophomore right tackle Xavier Nixon are both from North Carolina, while Appalachian State boasts five players from the state of Florida. ASU defensive coordinator Dale Jones was a former UF assistant (1991).

SENIOR DAY

The Gators’ 2010 senior class is one of the winningest classes in SEC history with a 41-10 record in their time in the Orange and Blue. However, that is not the only accomplishment the class has made in the last four years. The senior class also has:

Two National Championships – Three BCS bowl game wins (2010 Sugar Bowl) – Two SEC Championships (three appearances) – Three SEC Eastern Division titles – 29-5 record at The Swamp – 15-1 record vs. rivals (Tennessee, Georgia, FSU and Miami)

* Brandon Antwine – #47 – DT – Garland, Tex.
* Ahmad Black – #35 – SS – Lakeland, Fla.
* Lorenzo Edwards – #26 – LB – Orlando, Fla.
* John Fairbanks – #59 – LS – Celebration, Fla.
* Marcus Gilbert – #76 – LT – Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
* Chas Henry – #17 – P/K – Dallas, Ga.
* Brandon Hicks – #40 – LB – Jacksonville, Fla.
* Maurice Hurt – #74 – T/G – Milledgeville, Ga.
* Carl Johnson – #57 – G – Durham, N.C.
* A.J. Jones – #16 – LB – Tampa, Fla.
* Duke Lemmens – #44 – DE/LB – Westlake Village, Calif.
* Lawrence Marsh – #90 – DT – Augusta, Ga.
* Emmanuel Moody – #21 – RB – Coppell, Tex.
* Carl Moore – #9 – WR – Rancho Cordova, Calif.
* Mike Pouncey – #55 – C – Lakeland, Fla.
* Terron Sanders – #92 – DT – Bradenton, Fla.
* Justin Trattou – #94 – DE – Ramsey, N.J.
* Justin Williams – #7 – WR – Folkston, Ga.
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* Gary Beemer – #61 – DT – Valrico, Fla.
* Miguel Carodine – #41 – S – Gainesville, Fla.
* Eugene Minchin – #33 – LB – Gainesville, Fla.
* Shawn Schmieder – #70 – DT – Jacksonville, Fla.
* Solomon Schoonover – #29 – WR – Aventura, Fla.

KEEP AN EYE ON…

FLORIDA
» Redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley…who had thrown 156 consecutive passes without an interception dating back to 2009, now has a 8-7 TD/INT ratio this season after throwing an interception last week. He has completed 172-of-282 passes (61.0 percent) for 1,746 yards and has a passer rating of 117.4.
» Freshman QB Trey Burton and redshirt freshman tight end Jordan Reed…both of whom will spell Brantley at quarterback in Florida’s new three-QB system. Burton set a school record and SEC freshman record by scoring six touchdowns in a single game against Kentucky. He has 10 scores on the season, has played five positions and is second on the team in rushing (56 carries for 279 yards). Reed got his first meaningful snaps behind center two weeks, going 11-of-19 for 120 yards with a touchdown and a pick. He also ran 16 times for 84 yards with another score.
» Junior running back Jeff Demps…who is averaging 6.3 yards per carry and still leads the Gators in rushing (488 yards) after missing two full games and being limited in five others. He was Florida’s leading rusher in its first five games of the season.
» Redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey..who returned to action for the first time in over a month against Georgia and has 28 carries for 140 yards (along with 16 receptions for 150 yards) and three touchdowns this year.
» Redshirt freshman WR/kick returner Andre Debose…who set a school single-season record with his second kickoff return touchdown last week. With an 88-yard return against LSU and a 99-yard return against South Carolina, he is the only freshman nationally with two in 2010 and one of only two players nationally with two in 2010. He is one of the reasons why the Gators rank No. 5 nationally and No. 1 in the SEC in kickoff returns with a 26.1 average.
» Sophomore WR Frankie Hammond, Jr.…who is quickly becoming one of Florida’s most important pass catchers. He was the team’s leading receiver against Mississippi State and caught three passes for 46 yards against Georgia and another three passes for 49 yards and a touchdown against Vanderbilt the following week.
» Senior punter Chas Henry…who is the end-all be-all of Florida’s kicking game now that he has taken over for junior Caleb Sturgis (back) as the team’s field goal kicker. Henry had missed five-straight field goal attempts (one negated by penalty) before nailing back-to-back kicks in the fourth quarter and overtime three weeks ago.
» Florida’s secondary…which has intercepted 13 balls this season. Starters senior safety Ahmad Black (three), junior CB Janrois Jenkins (three), redshirt sophomore CB Jeremy Brown (three), and junior S Will Hill (three) have accounted for all but one of the unit’s picks.
» Black…who has led Florida in tackles seven times this season: vs. South Carolina (career-high 16), LSU (13), Georgia (12), Miami (10), Mississippi State (10), USF (8) and Vanderbilt (4). He is tops on the team overall with 93 tackles, including nine for loss.

APPALACHIAN STATE
» QB DeAndre Presley…who has passed for 2,066 yards and 17 touchdowns with only four interceptions this season while simultaneously leading his team on the ground with 727 rushing yards.
» WR Brian Quick…who has a team-high 36 catches for 685 yards and seven TDs.
» Linebacker D.J. Smith, defensive tackle Jabari Fletcher and CB Mark LeGree…who lead the team with 108 tackles, seven sacks and five interceptions, respectively.

INJURIES

Active/Probable: Junior RB Jeff Demps (foot), sophomore RB Mike Gillislee (hamstring), redshirt sophomore DT Jaye Howard (ankle), sophomore LB Jon Bostic (bruised sternum)
Inactives: Redshirt senior LB A.J. Jones, redshirt sophomore LT Matt Patchan (broken wrist), junior K Caleb Sturgis (back), sophomore LB Dee Finley (fractured collarbone), freshmen RB Mack Brown, WRs Quinton Dunbar and Chris Dunkley (hamstrings)

Catch the Gators’ 11th game of the season live on television on pay-per-view, via the radio or through OGGOA‘s live updates on Twitter.
 

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