Gators out to finish season strong
Published: Sunday, November 13, 2011 at 8:20 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, November 13, 2011 at 8:20 p.m.
It's hidden under all the penalties, turnovers and lack of execution on scoring opportunities that have paved the way to Florida's first losing SEC season since 1986.
Who: Furman (6-4) at Florida (5-5)
When: 1 p.m. TV: Pay-per-view
Radio: 103.7-FM, AM-850
First-year Florida coach Will Muschamp sees it despite the repetitive mistakes in the 1-5 slide the Gators are on.
“I see a lot of improvement, regardless of the results,” Muschamp said Saturday. “I know you all worry about the results. And that's what everybody wants, and I do, too, believe me. I get that. It's about winning. I understand that.
“But in the big picture of things, we've made tremendous improvements, we've played blocks better — much better — up front at times. We do a better job in the run game against a quality defensive football team. Tonight we had 150 yards rushing. We ran the ball in the second half.
“So is there improvement? Yes. Is it what we want? No. Is it where it needs to be? No. Are we going to get there? Yeah, we're going to get there.”
Florida gets the opportunity to salvage its season at home against Furman (6-4) and No. 23 Florida State (7-3) in the final two games of the regular season. UF (5-5) needs one win to become bowl eligible.
“We need to work on Florida,” Muschamp said on his Sunday television show. “We have to continue to improve. Find ways to finish games better in those situations when they present themselves.
“I have to put the football team in situations to be successful and that's on me.”
One way UF has improved was in the use of the tight end position in Saturday's 17-12 loss at South Carolina. Redshirt sophomore Jordan Reed caught five passes for a game-high 62 yards and freshman A.C. Leonard had a career-high two receptions for 11 yards.
Reed “is a guy we have to get the ball to more,” Muschamp said.
The running game also picked up, as senior tailback Chris Rainey rushed for 132 yards, including a run of 47 yards in the fourth quarter that set up UF's only touchdown.
“I felt good at that point that we were going to win the football game,” Muschamp said Sunday of Rainey's long run.
“We played hard, our guys competed. Just unfortunate we came out on the wrong end. We have to find a way at the end to win that game.”