1,450 days after the Will Muschamp era began, it is over. After a 28-21 overall record, going 17-15 in the SEC, and going 6-7 against Florida’s biggest rivals (Florida State, Georgia, Miami, and Tennessee), Will Muschamp’s defense-only approach to winning football games is over. After a few roller coaster seasons, where Florida was criticized for being plain on offense, but stout on defense the Gators ended the regular season and Will Muschamp’s career in the most fitting way possible – a spectacular defensive performance, holding FSU to their lowest offensive putout, but struggled moving the ball on offense despite an averaging starting field position of their own 45 yard line.
Will Muschamp inherited a broken program, both in discipline and talent (although you may argue differently), but one that had won the SEC Championship and National Championship twice in the previous four years. He was brought on as a disciplinarian, up-and-comer, and one that Florida fans were excited about learning more about and accepting into their hearts. He was the top defensive coordinator in the country, a ferocious recruiter, had ties to the South, and was raised in Gainesville, Fla. After four years, Florida no longer has a discipline problem. But now, Florida isn’t winning, and ultimately, that matters most.
As a former defensive coach, Will Muschamp created some of the best defenses in the country. His defenses were ranked 8th (2011), 5th (2012), 8th (2013), and 9th (2014) nationally and produced multiple 1st round draft picks (Dominque Easley, Matt Elam, Sharrif Floyd). No one would or could question Will Muschamp’s ability to recruit and develop dynamic defensive players.
However, on offense Will Muschamp’s teams were putrid under three separate offensive coordinators – Charlie Weis, Brent Pease, and Kurt Roper. To give you an idea of how bad it was: Florida finished 93rd in the country in total offense, the highest of the Will Muschamp era, by 11 national spots. Further over the last four years, they averaged only 5.186 yards per play; 336.46 yards per game in total offense; and only passed for 170.51 yards per game. To put those numbers into perspective, Florida has never been ranked higher than 67th in the country in yards per play (no higher than 90th since 2012); they have ranked 105th, 104th, 115th, and 93rd in total offense; and ranked 83rd, 116th, 109th, and 113th in total passing yards over the past four seasons. All in all…putrid. There is no other way to describe it. Will Muschamp, although he will never admit it, never allowed an offense to flourish in Gainesville
Now Florida moves on. They look to find their next coach and hopefully one soon as there is a recruiting dead period from December 15 to January 14. There are a number of names being thrown around from Hugh Freeze to Dabo Swinney to Larry Fedora to Jim McElwain, but ultimately, we don’t know who the next coach at the University of Florida will be and do not let the rumors drive you crazy.
And finally, whomever it is that becomes the Head Coach at the University of Florida, they will be inheriting a program with a broken offense, yes, but a team that is full of untapped talent, but one that does not have discipline issues, and one that should field a dynamic defense thanks to Will Muschamp. At the end of the day, Will Muschamp was hired to help clean up a program and win games, he did the first thing and for that we are grateful. Now it is time of win some games.
Thoughts on Florida State
- You all watched the game, nothing really too new here. You cannot start with the ball three times on their side of the field and only have nine points. You cannot convert four Jameis Winston turnovers into only nine points.
- Florida held Florida State’s offense in check, allowing the 12th ranked passing offense in the country, to only 125 yards on 50% passing – both season lows for Winston.
- After being held out of the Bednarik Award Semifinalists in favor of FSU’s Jalen Ramsey, Vernon Hargreaves shut down Rashard Greene, FSU’s all-time leading receiver, and proved that he truly is deserving of the recognition and was the best cornerback on the field. Meanwhile, Ramsey was beat on a an almost touchdown on the first drive and burned by Brandon Powell a few drives later.
- Tevin Westbrook is obviously not very good at catching the ball, but I do not blame him solely for that fact. He is a converted defensive end. I blame the coaching staff for having no other tight end options. Sure, Jake McGee is injured, but he should not have been the only option either. Failure to retain and develop tight ends is just another thing on the laundry list of failures on the offensive side of the ball.
- Penalties killed Florida and their 105 yards was the third highest in Will Muschamp’s career at UF. The Gerald Willis penalty was stupid, but the holding penalties on Tyler Moore and Latroy Pittman hurt much worse to the Gators chances of winning.
- An aside on Tyler Moore: Sure, Tyler Moore isn’t the best guard at Florida and many question his decision to go pro, but the attacks on him personally have been rough. Moore will have a degree, is married, has a child, and is ready to move on from Florida and he shouldn’t be criticized for it. He will not likely be drafted, but who cares? Its not your life. If he thinks giving the NFL a shot is the best way to provide for his family, then so be it.
- I do not think Gerald Willis should be booted from the team, and Muschamp should not have said that. Cooler heads will prevail. Willis should not have shoved Winston, but I am assuming Winston did not just keep his mouth shut and at no point did it look like a very hard push, more of a “get out of my face” type of thing. Willis has had a variety of issues at UF, but I do not think the shove was THAT egregious. Perhaps Muschamp’s reaction was the culmination of other things that had gone wrong with Willis.
- Florida was inside the 35-yard line of FSU eight times and scored 19 points. Let that sink in.
- Austin Hardin deserves a real pat on the back. After starting his career 4-of-12 in field goals in 2013, he rallied this year and passed starter Frankie Velez, to go 7-of-10, including 6-of-8 to close the season, even though he missed two against Florida State from 52 and 42 yards. Tough breaks happen, but with two years left to go, Hardin should have confidence to go into the bowl game and into next season – something we didn’t think would happen going into the season.
- The Gators lost the game when FSU kept the ball for 6:19 in the fourth quarter. FSU got the ball with 9:42 left in the game after a Hardin missed kick and FSU ended up scoring three points with 3:23 left in the game. They let Winston scramble for nine yards on a long 3rd and 8 and let Nick O’Leary catch a 17 yard pass on 2nd and 7. After those two plays, the Gators had little shot with their anemic offense to march down the field and score a touchdown.
Thoughts on New Coach
- Be very careful about “sources” during this time. In 2010, many sources had Florida talking to Bob Stoops and Chris Petersen, when in reality; Will Muschamp was the only guy that was targeted.
- No need to track flights or need to remember the UF plane call numbers. Jeremy Foley will not be using the UF plane to fly to Clemson, Oxford, Fort Collins, or wherever. He will use a private plane used by a booster or fly commercial or hop on an athletic team flight similarly to the way he did to Texas in 2010. Foley got exposed in 2005 by flight tracker trying to get Urban Meyer; he will not do it for a head coach again.
- Just because someone is considered a candidate does not mean they truly are. They are numerous financial reasons for an agent to attach a coach’s name to a job search, mainly an increase in salary, something that agents greatly benefit from.
- Jim McElwain is a pro-style coach. I do not see that coming back to Gainesville soon.
- After a watching the entirety of the Ole Miss/Mississippi State game, I think Hugh Freeze is a great game coach and took many necessary chances to win that ball game. He climbed a lot in my book.
- Florida will be paying a coach that probably doesn’t deserve the type of money they will be getting, a lot of money – like in the $4.5+ million per year range.
- There is no perfect candidate and there are things wrong with each one, but man, after reading comments no coach seems like they would be welcome in Gainesville except Nick Saban, Tom Landry, or Don Shula.
- Just relax and let it all happen.
Dan’s Heisman Rankings
1. Marcus Mariota
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Song of the Week
As always, I try to expose you to some up-and-comers in the world of country music and keep you dialed in to the bigger names in the genre. This week we go back to our friend Will Hoge.