Saturday’s loss to Miami was a tough one to swallow for Gator fans. Don’t think it was any easier to deal with for Will Muschamp, his coaching staff and the Florida players as well.
To make matters worse for everyone, the Gators have a bye week before hosting Tennessee on September 21st in The Swamp. That means the sting of the loss will linger for two whole weeks before the Gators can go out and get back onto the field.
As fans, these two weeks will be long but as a former coach, I can promise you that for the coaches and players inside the locker room it will seem like two months from the time they left Sun Life Stadium until kickoff against Tennessee.
For Will Muschamp, these are going to be a rough two weeks as he has several things he must take care of and handle to get this Florida program back heading in the right direction. None of those things will come easy for Florida’s head coach.
The first order of business for Muschamp is to rally his troops back together inside the Florida locker room and get them back on track to prepare for the rest of the season. Let’s face it, the Gators have only lost one game and all of their preseason goals are still well within reach.
As a former coach, I’m sure Sunday’s team meeting went something like this; “Guys, we lost. It’s time to move on and fix the mistakes and get ready for Tennessee in two weeks.” Muschamp will remind his players of the loss over and over this season to keep them motivated. Muschamp must look his team in the eyes and make them understand that they must get better.
Next up for Muschamp and offensive coordinator Brent Pease is to find some way to make this Florida offense go and score points for a great Gators defense. For both of these coaches this task will be tougher than it sounds, as they are dealing with injuries up front and a quarterback who is lacking confidence after a tough game against the Hurricanes.
The bye week will provide the coaches the opportunity to allow competition and help the team get back to the fundamentals for a week. The open week also provides the offensive line an extra week to get healthy and back to full strength before the SEC gauntlet begins.
The next order of business for Muschamp is recruiting this week and making sure that the recruiting class is kept in tack. Muschamp is selling to prospects that Florida is headed in the right direction but it must be tough talking to offensive recruits after a game like this past week.
However, you can also look at it as a chance to sell early playing time to several offensive prospects on Florida’s board.
With all of this being said, Florida announced that there would be no media availability this week during the bye week. This means that other than the SEC teleconference on Wednesday, the coaching staff and players won’t have to answer questions about the loss to Miami for more than a week and by the time they are made available, everyone’s attention will already be turned to Tennessee.
Some reporters and fans took it as Muschamp hiding and not wanting to talk to the media but as a former coach, I have a different opinion of things.
Would I like to see Muschamp speak this week? Yes, but what does that accomplish? Nothing at all. He can only say the same things he did on Saturday so many times.
Muschamp has bigger fish to fry than answering questions from the media. He has to find a way to fix the offense and keep his team focused on the rest of the season.
I want to remind fans that while this loss is tough on you, it’s also tough on the people inside the locker room who want it just as bad – if not more – than you do.
Knowing Will Muschamp as a coach and as a leader, I fully expect the Florida Gators to be prepared and better when they take the field against Tennessee. What the players and coaches need now is the Gator Nation to be behind them.