Dealing with defeat
Published: Monday, October 31, 2011 at 5:40 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, October 31, 2011 at 5:40 p.m.
Being the ultracompetitor that he is, Florida coach Will Muschamp does not handle losing well.
“There's nothing good about it,” he said Monday. “There are no moral victories. There's nothing. You deal with it.
“I don't know if you ever get over a loss. You live with them for a long time. You've just got to learn, in this league, you better move to the next week. When the season's over with, you sit down. But you don't ever get over a loss. I don't.”
Like everyone else in Gator Nation, Muschamp is feeling the full sting of this rare four-game losing streak that has sunk UF's SEC season (and any hopes of the Gators playing for a championship).
Obviously, these four losses will stay with Muschamp for a long time. But, as the head coach, he knows he has no choice but to file them away (for now) and move on to the next game and the rest of the season.
The emotional guy is taking an unemotional approach.
“You watch film, you're technical in your approach,” Muschamp said. “You don't get emotional with the players. You show them what you did well, what you didn't do well, what you've got to do to improve yourself as a player, a coach and a football team.
“And the first person is you look at yourself. Too many people in society want to point a finger at somebody else or blame somebody else for something that happened.
“I tell our players, ‘When we play well it's because you did a good job preparing yourselves. When you don't, it's my fault.' That's the way we do things around here.”
This is all new territory for the Gators. That last time Florida lost four games in a row was 1988, when Galen Hall was the coach. That team managed to win six games to become bowl eligible. This year's team needs two more victories in the last four games to do the same.
Despite all the negativity swirling around the program, players seem to be coping OK.
“It's always tough to get over a loss,” senior quarterback John Brantley said. “But you just have to keep moving forward. We're a close bunch. We got real close during the offseason. There's no pointing fingers.
“We have to clean up some things we need to work on and do the best we can to beat Vanderbilt.”
Junior defensive tackle Omar Hunter said the four-game losing streak has not divided the team or spoiled the strong chemistry the players developed over the summer and during preseason camp.
“It's been a long, tough road these last few games,” Hunter said. “We're just talking about finishing out the season strong.
“I think the chemistry has even gotten better. These guys are really pulling together. We lost last week's game, but we're getting better as a team.”
Brantley was asked if the Gators could turn things around in the next four games.
“Absolutely,” he said. “I think we can. I think we will.”
It's time to start doing that, Muschamp said.
“Well, we had a good meeting this morning,” Muschamp said. “(I) told them we're going to saddle up and continue to work and continue to press forward and be technical in our approach about the things we did well, the things we didn't do well. And understand and learn from the film and continue to move forward.
“We've got an experienced (coaching) staff, a staff that's been through tough times before that understands that part of it. It's our job to bring a young team through this, and that's what we're doing.”
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or email@example.com. Also check out Andreu's blog at Gatorsports.com.