UF's Muschamp: Correcting problems is goal
Published: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 at 3:12 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 at 3:12 p.m.
Recruiting is always a top priority at Florida, and two of the most important days of the fall, traditionally, are the Sunday and Monday heading into the Gators' open date, where the coaches have the opportunity to use the free time to hit the recruiting trail.
Well, Will Muschamp's latest open date decision was to call his coaches in off the road. There is a more pressing priority at the moment — coming up with possible solutions to the problems that have led to the Gators' troubling two-game losing streak in the SEC that has dropped UF to 4-3 overall and all but out of contention in the division race.
“I had some coaches who were supposed to be out recruiting Sunday and Monday and told the whole staff we need to get back in, we need to sit down and figure some things out,” Muschamp said Wednesday. “You go back to technique and fundamentals, you simplify. We've got to get our guys playing faster, we've got to get our guys playing with more confidence. That's what we're trying to do right now.
“We constantly self-evaluate. It's not something or anything new that we're doing. But from a standpoint of scheme, personnel, preparation, practice, however you want to cut it up, that's what we've got to do.
"That's what we're doing at this point, finding some things we can do well offensively, and get back defensively to the way we're capable of playing, which we certainly didn't do last Saturday, and that's on me.”
In the back-to-back losses at LSU and Missouri, the offense was plagued by poor pass protection and execution and an almost total lack of consistency in both the running and passing games.
Quarterback Tyler Murphy was sacked a total of 10 times in the two games and the offense scored only 23 points and averaged just 195.5 yards a game. In the 36-17 loss to Missouri this past Saturday, the Gators could muster just 151 total yards, the lowest since UF gained only 114 against Alabama in the 1999 SEC Championship Game.
Not only did the offense fail at Columbia, the defense had its first meltdown of the season, giving up 500 total yards and 36 points.
Given those poor performances, things don't look promising for the Gators moving forward, with remaining games against Georgia, Vanderbilt, South Carolina and Florida State.
“We need to do a better job across the board,” Muschamp said. “When you're not producing, you can't continue to do the same things or you'll get the same result.”
Given all the problems on offense, Muschamp was asked if he's given offensive coordinator Brent Pease a vote of confidence this week.
“Yeah, this is the same staff that came a game away from possibly playing for the national championship, OK,” he said. “So, obviously, we're not where we want to be right now, and nobody knows that more than our staff. So we need to go back and re-evaluate what we're doing and continue to improve our football over the next five weeks.”
It's fairly obvious Muschamp has no plans to make any changes on his staff in terms of responsibility seven games into the season. The goal seems to be correcting the problems.
One of the priorities is the offensive line, which has been mauled in pass protection for most of the season, especially in the last two games.
“We need to settle on a five and let those guys play. Right now,” Muschamp said. “We've underperformed, obviously. We're better than what we put on the field the last two weeks. I talk in terms of simplifying some calls for them, reducing what we do, get them playing faster, get them playing with more confidence, get them playing the way they're capable of playing.
“(The line is) better than what we've played. It's on us. We need to do a better job of putting them in situations to be successful.”
The Gators have struggled at both tackle positions — D.J. Humphries at left tackle and Nebraska transfer Tyler Moore at right.
Muschamp said Humphries likely will be among the top five linemen the coaches go with next week against Georgia.
“I think so,” he said. “D.J. needs to play better and he knows that. I'm not telling you anything he and I haven't talked about. Just be more consistent in his play, in his sets as far as the pass game is concerned and sealing the edges in some things.
“He's a guy that football is very important to him and playing well is very important to him. We need to take some steps forward.”
Moore appears to have work to do to crack the starting five.
“We're short of tackles,” Muschamp said. “Tyler can play much better than he's played. He has shown the ability to do that. And so we're going to continue to look for that five, those five guys, whether him being one of them I don't know.”
Muschamp said junior tackle Trenton Brown and true freshman guard Octavius Jackson have a chance to compete for playing time.
“I think Trenton's a guy that needs some opportunities and some turns,” he said. “We've got to get him in there and let him play some. Octavius Jackson has been repping with us. There are some possibilities there. We're continuing to get some continuity up front."
Muschamp said another priority this week is finding ways to put the ball in the hands of the players who are capable of making plays, including true freshman tailback Kelvin Taylor, who rushed for 74 yards and his first career touchdown last Saturday.
“Kelvin obviously needs to touch it more,” Muschamp said. “He has shown playmaking ability.”
Muschamp said three other true freshmen may have a chance to make an impact on defense — tackles Jay-nard Bostwick and Joey Ivie and outside linebacker Jarrad Davis.
“We probably should have played Joey Ivie and Jay-nard Bostwick in the game (against Missouri),” Muschamp said. “We're very thin defensively. We probably should have played those guys and just gone with it. Those guys have been progressing very well. Jarrad Davis played his most snaps in a game. I think he played 12-15 snaps. He's been an outstanding special teams player for us.”
Overall, it's going to be a big (and busy) bye week for the Gators, one that does not include recruiting.
“Work on technique, fundamentals, simplify what we're doing, find out what we do well and get our guys faster and playing with more confidence,” Muschamp said. “That, to me right now, is our message.”
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or email@example.com. Also check out Andreu's blog at Gatorsports.com.