Muschamp: Gators a fragile team
Published: Sunday, November 10, 2013 at 5:52 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, November 11, 2013 at 2:23 a.m.
Florida coach Will Muschamp said Sunday that the Gators are a “fragile” football team that desperately needs to create something positive if UF hopes to turn things around in the final three games of the season.
Who: Florida (4-5) at No. 11 South Carolina (7-2)
When: 7 p.m. Saturday
“Unfortunately, right now we're a very fragile football team,” Muschamp said on his television show. “When negative things happen, we kind of snowball it a little bit defensively, offensively and in special teams.
“We need some positive things to happen. We need to create those things for our football team.”
There wasn't much positive in the Gators' latest setback, a 34-17 homecoming loss to Vanderbilt that ended UF's 22-game winning streak against the Commodores and dropped Florida to 4-5 on the season and in danger of having its first losing season since 1979.
The Gators seemed to do all they could to ensure the Vandy win, turning the ball over four times, all by quarterback Tyler Murphy, who threw three interceptions and lost a fumble. His interceptions led to three short touchdown drives for the Commodores.
“I hurt for our fans. They deserve better here at the University of Florida,” Muschamp said. “You can't spot the team the ball on the 10-yard line twice, the four and the 22 and expect to win the game. That just kills us in the game.
“Less than 200 yards offense (for Vandy). We gave them a short field. They had two decent drives. Four turnovers led to 24 points. You can't win.
“It's frustrating to put ourselves in those positions and shoot ourselves in the foot. It's hard to win that way.”
The Gators have lost four games in a row and are a double-digit underdog (12 points) in their final league game at South Carolina on Saturday.
It's a tough time for this injury-depleted UF football team, but Muschamp said Sunday he expects his players to continue preparing and playing with great effort.
“We're going to coach guys that will go out and practice hard and prepare the right way,” Muschamp said. “And if they don't, they won't play.
“I don't ever question our guys' effort yesterday. I thought they played hard. They didn't play very smart sometimes. We need to take care of the football and create some plays for ourselves to get some positive things going. Our guys will play hard and prepare well.”
Muschamp said some of UF's talented young players likely will see more playing time as the Gators move forward. He mentioned four true freshmen Sunday: linebacker Jarrad Davis and wide receivers Ahmad Fulwood, Demarcus Robinson and Chris Thompson.
“Some of the young receivers are coming along really well,” he said. “Chris Thompson did a nice job yesterday. Ahmad Fulwood (caught a touchdown pass), Demarcus Robinson got some opportunities.
“We've got some good young talent coming at the position. It develops at different stages. Those guys are coming along.”
Muschamp said Davis will continue to see more playing time at linebacker.
“Jarrad is going to be a really good football player. He needs to play more,” Muschamp said. “We need more playmaking ability at the linebacker position. He certainly gives us that.”
Speaking of playmakers, perhaps the Gators' most consistent one on offense, wide receiver Solomon Patton, left Saturday's loss with an injured knee and did not return.
Muschamp said it does not appear the injury is serious.
“I think he's going to be OK. He had a little bit of a knee,” Muschamp said. “I think he's going to be fine based on after the game. Our trainer felt like he'd be OK moving forward.”
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out Andreu's blog at Gatorsports.com.