7-6 records won’t cut it at Florida, and Will Muschamp is well aware of that. Certainly the Gators fielded a very young football team a season ago. Over 70% of the roster was freshmen and sophomores. At Florida, the cupboard should never be that barren of talented upperclassmen. Perhaps we can blame that on the previous coach, but now that excuse has been exhausted. 2012 should be different. It better be.
Muschamp called his first season “frustrating and disappointing” when speaking today at SEC Media Days. Perhaps most disappointing was the offense which was downright offensive at times. The constant shuffling at quarterback, the inability to run the football, the lack of a top receiving threat, and a disappointing lack of results from an offensive coordinator who once claimed he’d out-X and O everyone. Charlie Weis is gone now, taking over atKansas, and Boise State OC Brent Peas has replaced him. Gator fans hope he brings that high powered Broncos offense with him.
Clearly the quarterbacks, Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett, are going to be what people talk about. They battled to a draw in the spring, and Florida may start the season playing both. Ideally one will emerge, the way Alabama had AJ McCarron take control of the Tide huddle by week 3 last season. Otherwise Muschamp and Peas will be put into an unfamiliar and uncomfortable situation of deciding when, how, and how much to use their two signal callers.
DC Dan Quinn’s unit was 9th in America in yards allowed per game, which is outstanding considering the youth of the Florida defense. Unfortunately generating only 14 turnovers wasn’t nearly enough. Muschamp said the staff needs to do a better job of coaching them up in that area, but also reminded that they dropped 7 interceptions and failed to recover 5 fumbles.
“We’re building a program, not a team,” Muschamp claimed again today for the media. He says he has said that before. Only problem I see is that he inherited a program. He needs to simply put together a team. Perhaps it’s the wording, and he just means doing things his way. But all my point is that Florida was fine before him and will be fine after him. He needs to get better players and put them in position to win.
Last year’s 6-6 regular season was actually even worse than it appears on paper. The six wins were against Florida Atlantic, UAB, Tennessee, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, and Furman. Of the 5 FBS teams, none finished with a winning record. Even the bowl win was against an Ohio State team that dropped to 6-7 following the loss. Florida was competitive with South Carolina and Georgia, but just being competitive doesn’t fly in Gainesville. This isn’t Vandy.
The Gators jumped off to a good start last year, going 4-0, and Will Muschamp thinks that is necessary this year too. ”We need to start the season fast. We got an opportunity to get a leg up on the SEC race.” Problem is the schedule is tougher. After a home opener against Bowling Green,Florida goes to Texas A&M and Tennessee, before returning home for Kentucky and LSU. 4-0 is possible, but it will be harder to get than a year ago.
In the final month of the season the Gators have two cupcakes sandwiched in between games against Missouri and FSU. Their SEC fate is likely to be determined before their conference finale on November 3 however.
From a distance, the Gators appear just as likely to lose at Vandy as they do to beat LSU at home. For a power school like Florida, that should rarely, if ever, be the case. Will Muschamp can turn opinions one way or another, and has this season to do it. If this year goes poorly, there is no promise he’ll get 2013 to get it right.Tuck: Will Muschamp On The Hot Seat by Mike Tuck