Randy Shannon is not worrying about his immediate future after falling to 1-3 as Florida’s interim head coach following UF’s 38-22 loss to Florida State.
But Shannon said he’s open to sticking around in any capacity to help turn UF’s fortunes around.
“I like Florida,” Shannon said. “I like Gainesville. It’s a great place, like any other place, but this is a unique, fun place to be at.”
Shannon started out as UF’s linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator under former UF coach Jim McElwain in 2015, then was promoted to defensive coordinator before this season. He replaced McElwain as interim coach following UF’s 42-7 loss to rival Georgia on Oct. 29.
Though results haven’t shown on the field, administrators and players have praised Shannon’s professionalism and work ethic in dealing with a difficult situation.
“The only thing that’s been talked about, being honest with you, is being the interim coach,” Shannon said “And that’s the only thing I worried about. I’m still the interim coach. We’ve got meeting (Sunday) at 4, I’ve got to make sure the guys academically is OK. And like I said, fellas, that’s the only thing I worry about. I don’t worry about a lot of many things. Lot of the times, and I know it’s you guys’ job to find out the scoop. It’s part of it, I’m not going to get upset, that’s just part of it. My job is to be where I am at this point in time.”
Shannon also said that he and his staff will remain focused on recruiting until a new coach is named.
“We haven’t stopped recruiting, fellas,” Shannon said. “I mean, we’ve been recruiting. We had a bunch of recruits the other day that came in from south Georgia, from New Jersey, from Pittsburgh, from Miami, they all came from all over to watch this game, just to watch us play. That shows you something about the brand, and we’re going to keep recruiting. That’s our job.”
Draft eligible Gators
While Saturday’s loss at the The Swamp was the final game for UF’s 20 seniors, it could also mark the final game for a handful of NFL draft eligible juniors as well.
Junior defensive lineman Cece Jefferson, an NFL draft prospect, had nine tackles against FSU, including three solo tackles and half a sack. Redshirt sophomore defensive lineman Jabari Zuniga added seven tackles and half a sack, while redshirt junior defensive lineman Taven Bryan had four tackles, one tackle for loss and was whistled for a questionable roughing the passer penalty late in the third quarter.
Junior Martez Ivey made his second start of the season at left guard after making his first nine starts of the season at left tackle. Ivey’s move inside sparked the run game early as his inside blocking helped set up senior Mark Thompson’s TD run.
Ivey, Bryan, Jefferson and Zuniga were not made available for comment to discuss their futures. Shannon said earlier in the week that all draft-eligible players will receive draft grades from the NFL in December before making their decisions.
“Florida is proactive when it comes to that, and I like that,” Shannon said.
FSU extends streak
Florida State extended its win streak to five straight against Florida, the longest in the school’s history against its in-state rival. The Gators last beat the Seminoles was on Nov. 24, 2012 in Tallahassee when UF won 37-26.
Florida has won six straight in the series twice — most recently from 2004-09 — and nine straight in the series from 1968-76. Florida dropped to 34-26 all-time against FSU with two ties in the Sunshine State showdown.
FSU improved to 5-6 and can become bowl eligible for the 36th straight year if it beats Louisiana-Monroe next Saturday in Tallahassee. The game was rescheduled after being postponed Sept. 9 due to Hurricane Irma. FSU currently holds the longest streak in the nation with 35 straight bowl trips.
“This was a big win,” FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said. “It means a lot to these kids. Just ask them about keeping that bowl streak alive. It’s important to them. It’s important to me.”
Townsend not slighted
Florida senior punter Johnny Townsend said he didn’t feel slighted in not being named one of 10 semifinals for the Ray Guy Award, given to the nation’s best punter. Townsend, who came into the FSU game averaging an SEC-best 47.9 yards per punt, averaged 43.8 yards on six punts in his final UF game against the rival Seminoles.
“That’s past me now,” Townsend said. “It’s always nice to get the postseason recognition and all the awards and stuff like that. Now my goals and dreams are extending to something much larger, so I’m going to go from there.”
Townsend, who will be attending the Senior Bowl in Mobile in January, nearly capped his UF career with a two-point conversion, but as a holder on an Eddy Pineiro extra point attempt, was stopped short of the goal line on a run attempt on a fake with 37 seconds left in the game.
“It was a last-second design,” Townsend said. “Me and Cece (Jefferson) kind of talked about it. It’s a thing we’ve had in the bag awhile. The look they gave us just didn’t work for it, but we had 40 seconds and just gave it a shot.”
Captains for the game were all seniors — cornerback Duke Dawson, wide receiver Brandon Powell, punter Townsend and linebacker Cristian Garcia. … Dawson, a former Dixie County High standout, had his fourth interception of the season and sixth of his career in the first quarter. … Former Gator All-American running back Jimmy DuBose served as the honorary Mr. Two Bits for the game. … Shannon said linebacker Vosean Joseph suffered a sprain and Powell suffered an injury in the first half but both returned to the game. … Former Florida basketball player Canyon Barry received a loud ovation from the crowd as he was recognized as one of five McWhorter postgrad UF scholars. … Florida saw its string of 12 straight seasons with a punt or kickoff return for a TD come to an end Saturday.