Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp’s job security had been in question for the first half of the year, with talk settling down after wins against Georgia and Vanderbilt.
However, Saturday’s lost to South Carolina has stirred those talks up, leaving Gator Nation to wonder where the program goes from the meltdown in The Swamp.
After the game, Muschamp wasn’t interested in talk of his future, focusing on preparing for next week’s game against Eastern Kentucky.
“I’m going to coach this football team and we’re going to move on and get ready for the next one,” Muschamp said. “That’s what I’ll do and that’s what our staff will and the team will do. I’ll let you guys speculate.”
Throughout the season, the Gators have performed below expectations. While the defense came into Saturday’s game ranked fourth in the SEC, the offense has struggled mightily throughout the year. Prior to their contest against South Carolina, the Gators were 11th in the SEC in total offense, averaging 385.2 yards a game. Florida has also turned the ball over throughout the year. Over a four-game stretch that included Alabama, Tennessee, LSU and Missouri, the Gators had 15 turnovers, including six against Missouri.
Florida fumbled the ball once against South Carolina, but struggled to find a rhythm offensively, especially on third down. Florida only converted three-of-14 third downs, the worst completion percentage since the fewest since losing to LSU October 11. The offenses inability to extend drives hindered a rushing game that ran for 218 yards.
“We were effective running the ball for the most part,” Muschamp said. “Third down is what really hurt us. We didn’t convert on third down. We were moving the ball but we didn’t maintain possession. That was a killer.”
For cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III, the players are focusing on playing football and letting the talk of Muschamp’s job status play out. When asked about the fairness of his coaching being on the hot seat, the corner discussed the nature of the job.
“It’s the University of Florida,” Hargreaves III said. “He knows that coming in. He tells us all the time you’re not supposed to lose at Florida. So he can take all that, that’s what he’s paid for, he’s paid to take all the criticism and he does a great job with it. We’ll see how it goes.”
The loss officially eliminates Florida from SEC East title contention. With a 5-5 record, Florida is one win away from being bowl eligible, though the Gators still may be selected due to having the first game of the season against Idaho cancelled.
As Florida moves on to Eastern Kentucky, offensive lineman Chaz Green understands the criticism his head coach will face and looks ahead as a chance to unify in light of an uncertain future.
“It’s out of our control anyways,” Green said. “Either way, everybody [has to] pull close together. We know the shots are going to come. We just got to pull together as a family and keep grinding like we’ve been doing all year.”