The pain of a three-game losing streak has obviously taken its toll on Gator fans, the players and the coaching staff. The deflated mood from Will Muschamp and players in the underbelly of EverBank field following Florida’s 23-20 loss to Georgia on Saturday was palpable.
The loss essentially ended the Gators chances at getting to Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game this season but also was the third straight year they’ve lost to their hated rivals from up north. The loss also changes Florida’s goals significantly this season. Every season the goal is to win the SEC East, but with that no longer an option, the team now must focus on a much more realistic goal — getting bowl eligible.
With games against Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Georgia Southern and Florida State still left on the docket, the Gators must win two to keep their streak of 22-consecutive bowl appearances alive.
Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday afternoon to discuss what happened against Georgia, previewed the homecoming game against Vanderbilt and talked about how the team will stay motivated the rest of the season even with Florida’s SEC aspirations dead in the water.
- Muschamp reiterated that the team needs to come out and play better in the first half but that he was very pleased with the way his team fought back in the second half.
- The slow start was especially evident on the defensive side of the football.
Defensively, just way too inconsistent 14 points on the first two drives. When you look back, starting fast comes back to putting our players in better situations to be successful as far as our looks are concerned and the things we are carrying into the game. Very erratic on third down, especially on the last drive when we couldn’t get off the field. Played better in the second half and made some things happen in the game to create some momentum for our team.”
- Offensively, Florida’s running attack improved as Kelvin Taylor took on an increased role in the first start of his career. Florida ran for 145 yards, the most since they ran for 246 yards against Kentucky.
- Despite getting into a hole early, Muschamp said that the team had opportunities to win the game near the end. The team didn’t execute and the head coach says that falls on his shoulders.
We needed to finish. We had our opportunities late in the game, and we didn’t get it done. That falls on my shoulders. We gotta get over the hump in those situations. We’ve had our opportunities in several games going back to Miami and LSU, some opportunities and a chance to win the game and we just didn’t get it done, and that’s on me.”
- Florida is currently ranked dead last in the SEC in penalties. The Gators are averaging 7.8 flags a game for 62.1 yards.
It’s something we coach it every day, obviously we’re not doing a very god job. It’s something we emphasize, something we talk about, we talked about this is an emotional game. There’s gonna be some things that we gotta learn to walk away from those situations and it’s something I’m going to address with the team again today.”
On taking on the Comodores this week
- Vanderbilt is coming off of a bye week after a huge win against Georgia three weeks ago and a loss to Texas A&M the following week. The win over Georgia was Vanderbilt’s first win over a ranked opponent under James Franklin.
- Vanderbilt’s Jordan Matthews broke the all-time SEC record for receiving yards and has 66 receptions this season for 890 yards and five scores.
I think Jordan Mathews is one of the better players in all of college football. Regardless of how you cover him, he catches the football. He makes a bunch of plays for them, reverses and different things they do. They do a great job of getting him the football and featuring him. I think he is just an outstanding player.”
- Vanderbilt has a senior laden defense that will give the Florida offense a challenge this week.
Change of motivation this season
- Florida has failed to reach the SEC Championship game for the fourth straight season. Despite not realizing their goals, Muschamp is confident that the team will continue playing motivated football the rest of the season.
Motivation is what you saw in the second half, those guys playing for each other. We’ve got a close-knit football team, a team that’s got character and you wouldn’t have seen that in the second half if that weren’t the case. So our guys will play, they’ll play hard.”
- Kelvin Taylor continues to progress in all phases. Muschamp spoke with Fred Taylor before the game last Saturday about how Kelvin has been picking up his pass protection responsibilities much better of late.
- Tyler Murphy is recovering from an AC sprain in his throwing shoulder. Muschamp said that the injury really affected Murphy in the Missouri game but that it wasn’t an issue last week.
The Missouri game was a big effect. There’s no question. He missed all week and he wouldn’t say it, but he was under a lot of pain and going into the game. I certainly think it’s improved from there as far as the wear and tear of the game and getting, taking some shots. Obviously, it has an effect. He won’t say it, but it does.”
- D.J. Humphries will miss his second straight game with an MCL sprain. Muschamp said that other than Humphries, he expects that everyone else is healthy and will play this week.
- Muschamp was pleased with the way the offensive line played against Georgia and encouraged with the play of Trenton Brown.
Well, I thought we improved and I thought Trenton did some nice things. He’s a big man. He’s a large body. It’s hard to get on the edges on him. I thought he protected. They had him one time on the hold, which was a good call. They bent the edge on him there, and he got his hand locked around the guy on his shoulder up there. But again, for a first start and going in that environment, I thought he played well.”