Blue-collar Gators won Muschamp’s way: running

By Adam Silverstein
November 2, 2014

Though he will never purport to be an offensive-minded coach, Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp has been consistent – from the day he was hired – in describing the type of team he wanted to have on both sides of the ball: blue-collar.

Muschamp has always favored a powerful, dominant running game that would succeed behind a powerful, dominant offensive line. Ideally, Florida would run play action off of its successful runs and take shots down the field when needed.

On Saturday, those shots were not needed, nor were any play action passes, nor was any passing in general. The Gators dominated on the ground to the tune of 418 rushing yards on 60 carries. Junior Matt Jones (192 yards) and sophomore Kelvin Taylor (197 yards) became the first UF teammates to each eclipse 120 rushing yards in the same game; the duo also combined for four touchdowns, two each.

“This is the kind of game that we envisioned when we came of the great camp that we had. We needed this game to kind of get us going with that 100-yard mark. We definitely feel good knowing that this was our first 100-yard game together,” explained Jones.

Muschamp was pleased, too. In fact, the only thing that bothered him is that Florida had not been as productive carrying the rock earlier this season despite always being capable.

“I feel like we should’ve been able to run the ball more successfully all year. For whatever reason, we had gotten away from some things. I don’t really put my finger on one thing to say it’s one thing because I don’t think it is, I think it’s multiple things,” he said. “We have run the ball pretty well in some situations. I think we got to continue to develop in the throwing game. We didn’t [Saturday night] because we didn’t need to. But we’re going to have to down the road; that’s going to have to happen, there’s no question. We’ve always been a blue-collar identity team, identity offense.”

One reason why the Gators were so successful on the ground was the fact that Muschamp called out the offensive line during the week, telling them it was up to their position group to win the game for UF, especially considering the team was starting true freshman Treon Harris quarterback.

“I went in the offensive line room on Wednesday,” he said. “I looked at D.J. Humphries, ‘You played in this game as a true freshman at tackle. Can you imagine playing quarterback?’ Our guys are smart. They understand it. I don’t know if they took it that way. That’s the message that was sent to them, that they needed to elevate their play, number one, from our last ballgame because it was embarrassing, number two, understand the circumstances around you and what you got to do to elevate your play to help somebody else.”

Humphries corroborated Muschamp’s story.

“He made it very clear that this was going to be a physical game and we got to make it physical and we got to bring the fight to them. And that’s what we did,” he said. “When the head man comes to you and tells you it’s on y’all – period end of story – y’all got to get it done, all five of us were ready to knuckle up and go.”

Jones and Taylor praised their offensive line live on the air with CBS after the game. According to Muschamp, they repeated those sentiments in the locker room. While appreciated, the offensive line made sure the rushers knew the praise was not necessary.

“Offensive line, we don’t need no glory. We see that [418] on the screen, that’s plenty of love for us. That’s all we need,” said Humphries. “I’m just happy for them boys, man, they took care of their opportunity.”

What would Humphries prefer instead of praise?

“Man, I told them boys, ‘Hey, somebody got to buy us dinner, somebody got to buy us food tonight or something.'”

Jones, via his Twitter account, promised dinner would be provided for the offensive line Sunday night. Though, if one was to believe Humphries on Saturday, it would be a big payment for a relatively easy job.

“We were way tougher than they were, first of all, and then we just knocked the fight out of them,” Humphries said of Georgia. “By the second half, after we came out in the second half and we took it down on them, they were done. All the fight was gone out of them. Up front and their linebackers, they didn’t want to hit us at all.”

Difficult or not, the offensive line was dominant and the running game was exceedingly successful, just as Muschamp wanted. The result was a big win for the Gators and an early exit for thousands of Bulldogs fans, just as Muschamp needed.

“Beating Georgia was very good. Knowing that they beat us three times in a row, knowing that we got back and cleared their stands out, it just felt good to beat them,” said Jones. “It was great just seeing them clear out, just seeing the frustration from their fans, knowing that they was cussing us out before the game. We kind of took that steam before the game and gave it to their players.”

Photo Credit: Stephen B. Morton/Associated Press


  1. Rakkasan says:

    Muschamp’s way got him into this mess but it won’t get him out. Hopefully he’ll learn from this when he gets a new coaching assignment.

  2. SJ210 says:

    Muschamp’s blue collar mentality is not a recipe for long-term success. I am astounded that we cannot run standard passing plays. The only pass plays we seem to run are WR/RB screens and chuck-and-pray deep routes. Adding Kurt Roper has made zero difference. I will never root for us to lose, but wins over Vandy and SoCar likely mean Champ sticks around another year.

    • Michael Jones says:

      UGA’s inability or refusal to set the edge and contain the bounce-out was unbelievable. Can’t imagine an SEC DC seeing that tape and not taking appropriate action in preparing to play us. We’ll almost certainly have to be a little more creative than we were Saturday to win again in the SEC.

      And if you watched Duke play Pitt Saturday then you know whose offense Kurt Roper is running. Just like Brent Pease wasn’t running Boise State’s. The formations might have changed but the philosophy of being scared-to-death of your own offense is still the same.

      My opinion is that we immediately started trying to run out the clock once we got a 7 point lead, but more touchdowns happened . . . and to our surprise, we were the ones scoring them.

  3. scroud says:

    I said this one time before and that’s if Jones was healthy for the LSU game, no way would we have lost, esp. on first and goal from the two. But the line did an amazing job on Saturday and deserves a lot of praise.
    As much as people are thinking Muschamp being fired is a done deal, if he wins the next three games (all winnable) and loses to FSU, he’s 7-4. If he wins the Safeco Life Insurance bowl in Toledo, he would be 8-4.
    I seem to recall a blogger here stating that 8-4 gives Muschamp another year and I would agree at this point. Heck I still believe we can beat FSU, they are nowhere near the team they were last year.
    As for the non-existent passing game, I still believe in Roper and think we will see more passing but they don’t want to put too much on Harris. Hopefully by the FSU game, they will trust him more and he will be ready for that test.

  4. Mike The Red says:

    I have a opposite view. Maybe Muschamp’s problem is not that he is too stubborn. Maybe his problem is that he was not stubborn enough.

    This is the type of play that he has recruited for. Dominate the run game. That is how we did so well in 2012. Then in 2013, we tried to shift to a more balanced attack given criticisms about the lack of a passing game. The wheels were coming off the bus before the injuries. Again in 2014, we tried to open up the running game. The wheels came off the bus. Last game, they decided that they had no choice given a brand new QB. Suddenly, they discovered that this is who they are.

    Maybe Muschamp’s problem is not that he is too stubborn. Maybe his problem is that he doubted his vision. He (or let the OC) itried to turn the team nto something that it was not.

    • Ken (CA) says:

      That’ just too funny. One game and suddenly 95% runs and he is a miracle worker who should have done this all along. Really? Get your head out of the clouds. You can’t be one dimensional and have long term success

      • Mike The Red says:

        No, it is just an acknowledgement that this is what we are. Obviously, we have not been recruiting WR.

        I agree that being one dimensional limits your chances of success, but so does not playing to your strengths.

        • Ken (CA) says:

          They have been recruiting WR, they just haven’t landed any. You don’t get big playmaking WR in a system where all they do at most is block. That doesn’t show off their skillset to make millions of dollars. Maybe if they open it up and Roper shows we can and will have more of a passing game we will get more interest, but until then, we are stuck being an old school Big 10 offense

  5. Michael Jones says:

    What I saw backs what Humphries says about out-toughing Georgia. For the 1st time in a long time we looked like the tougher team out there. UGA, like Auburn, has always been known for its toughness, so that was awesome.

    I’ve always wanted us to play hard. You can’t win’em all, but you can always play hard. Well, we played hard Saturday. Since that’s something we can control and is more about heart, character and effort than talent, I was loving it.

    Good job, guys! GO GATORS!!!

  6. SCN96 says:

    Just give Treon a little time to get in a groove throwing the ball. I know the kid can do it. and with the O line blocking the way it did, the passing game should open up off the run game for us.

  7. Mark Davis says:

    The offensive line dominating a good run defense is a winning formula. All the Muschamp haters that are clueless when he points out that the SEC is a “line of scrimmage league” will still hate and be clueless. Winning this way (dominating the line of scrimmage) gives me way more hope for winning future games than if the QB threw it all over the place to pull it out while the run game struggled. Well done Coach and Go Gators!

    • Ken (CA) says:

      Because Spurrier and Meyer never won anything and had lots of sputtering, timid, non-productive offenses by throwing it all over the field, right?

    • KB says:

      While you love the LOS domination you have to also think long term how you can recruit those explosive play-makers as well. To be a consistent productive offense you have to have balance. If you want to throw smoke screens or short passes and win with a dominant running game then you better get explosive play makers who can take those short passes long distances. Look let’s be honest. If this is the way you gotta win then go do it. But come recruiting time when you miss out on Nelson Agholor, Steffon Diggs, and other elite offensive recruits on signing day then don’t complain. Nobody should say or use the argument that that the offense doesn’t have explosive play-makers because those guys go play where they are a factor in the offense and are not just blockers. I’m for doing what works well but when your one dimensional and it doesn’t you have more questions than answers.

  8. Brandon says:

    Its looking like Muschamp will be returning next year. He must beat Vandy, SC, and play a very competitive game against FSU to keep his job, which I think is very possible. And did you guys seeing Foley celebrating on the sidelines during the game. It is clear that he is going to stick with WM to the end. The kids love WM and appeared to be re-energized after the huge UGA win. Hate WM or not you still have to root for his team this year. That was a very inspirational team that we all witnessed on Saturday. They played hard for their coach when he needed them to and responded to the adversity well. That performance was a great lesson that we can all learn from and use in our everyday lives. “When things are tough in life and everybody are doubting you, never give up.” Who knows, maybe this may be a career changing win of him and this program. Like it or not, all the arrows are pointing up for Muschamp to return next year.

    • Steven says:

      If this win gets Muschamp another year then it’s the worst win over UGA in Florida history.

      • apprentice says:

        This is unbelievable. Such short memories! 1 game is all it takes to erase all the sucking Muschamp has done in his time at Florida:

        – streak against Vanderbilt, broken
        – second longest bowl streak in CFB, broken
        – first Florida loss to an FCS team since 1978
        – most yards ever given up (645 to Alabama)
        – almost broke the streak against UK (took 3 OTs to save it)
        – first losing season since 1979
        – Florida was shut out in the first half for three consecutive games. Florida had not been shutout at the half since 1955
        – 1-3 against UGA
        – 1-2 against FSU
        – In the 38 years that Florida has featured a tight end on its roster, dating back to the 1966 season, 2013 was the least productive by players at the position. The Gators’ tight ends combined for four receptions (fewest ever), 42 yards (fewest ever) and no touchdowns (sixth time) [This one I copy/pasted from an article here in OnlyGators]
        – For the first time in 2 decades, the student season tickets didn’t sell out before the season started
        – No trophies of any kind in 3 years (probably 4) – No SEC East, no SEC…
        – The Gators lost on homecoming in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1947-48. UF fell 34-17 to Vanderbilt last year. [Got it from here too]
        – last ten years, teams who allow 120 yards or less are 147-2. Muschamp has the honor of being those 2

        There are more things, but you get the drift. Will Muschamp is not the solution here. The evidence against him is clear.

        • Mike The Red says:

          No, we just want to see our Gators win… and yes, we hope that this BIG WIN points to a brighter future.

          You cannot criticize Muschamp for losing and not give credit when he wins.

          Besides, you forget our 11-2 season.

          • apprentice says:

            1) I have never, ever, forgotten that dreadful 11-2 season. That 11-2 season is the SINGLE reason we are in this mess. That one data point, a highly irregular 11-2 season, is the basis of all the Muschamp supporting. Meanwhile, there are literally dozens of other reasons that point to why Muschamp is way in over his head, but that hasn’t mattered. That 11-2 season hunts us.

            2) I want to see the Gators win too. Which is why I want Muschamp gone. I don’t want some quickie short-term success to continue ruining the Gators in the long term. I refuse to fall into the trap of celebrating the “here and now”, when it is clear that this is just a stopgap and there is a much larger problem that needs to be addressed.

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