Defining moment in Baton Rouge?

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Sitting in the cramped interview room beneath Tiger Stadium on Saturday night, listening to Florida coach Will Muschamp lament a painful loss to LSU, I could not help but think back to Urban Meyer sitting in that same spot six years earlier and being reduced to tears.

Meyer’s emotions after that 2005 game were brought on by a number of factors. A disappointing 21-17 loss. The frustration of having to compete with an offense hamstrung by injuries. The fact that some of his players didn’t play hard and weren’t buying into his system.

There were no tears in Muschamp’s eyes Saturday. But there was plenty of anger, and a hint of frustration. In words similar to Meyer’s six years earlier, Muschamp said that any players unwilling to do the things they’re coached to do will no longer be a part of the program. He reiterated that Monday — basically either get on board or get off the train.

This is nothing new. First-year coaches at all levels experience something similar to this when they inherit a bunch of players they didn’t recruit (and who might not fit into what you want to do and how you want to do it).

Meyer’s tough stance after the LSU game in 2005 helped turn the season around for the Gators. In the weeks that followed, he found out which players were willing to be coached and put it on the line every day in practice and in games.

And a team that seemed stuck in muck in the loss to LSU went on to win five of its last six games and finish with a 9-3 record in Meyer’s first season. The momentum carried over to 2006 and helped the Gators win the national title.

I’m not saying Muschamp is going to do the same thing with his first Florida team. The schedule is tougher, the problems maybe a little more complex (like being manhandled on the line of scrimmage the past two weeks).

I’m just saying the situation is similar — and Muschamp is right where Meyer was in terms of making demands of his players, and challenging them to buy in or else.

Some starting jobs will change this week in practice. The competition is on.
It will be compelling stuff to see where this team goes from here.

42 COMMENTS

  1. I agree 100%…..Until I see them installing the wishbone, I believe 100% into the staff……We have players…..We ar going through the same thing Texas 13-0 2 years ago and Auburn 13-0 last year are going through…..Its transition time and we are going though a horrid schedule with freshmen QB’s….We are trying to do on the fly what coaches spent all spring doing!!!!
    I think we win the Auburn game and hopefully start back…..We really need a QB to take over……John was doing great against Bama…I believe if we would have had that offense the whole game it would have been much closer……LSU too!!! Our starting QB was riding a yellow bus 6 months ago……..Go gators!

  2. We lost to the best 2 teams in the country…NOBODY (with a brain which would exclude Nole fans) would think that we come close in either game after Brantley went down. We can win this week but we have to stop the run, QB play has to be better, and we have to limit penalties. Coaches are doing a good job…it would be unfair to judge them right now. Go Gators!

  3. There are many more problems than players not buying into the system. A young secondary without a single returning starter who can neither cover or tackle. Linebackers that can’t plug holes because they are out of position. Total lack of leadership from the coaching staff. Just put one QB in there and let him play. A primitive passing game (even before Brantley was hurt). A punter which can neither kick for distance or achieve a decent hangtime. Bad clock management by the coaching staff. There needs to be some new faces on the coaching staff after this year or there will be a new head coach.

  4. William, I think you are way off base. This Gator team is heavily flawed due to some recruiting misses, particularly at O-line, Linebacker and Wide Receiver the last few years. Muschamp is changing from the Spread to the Pro Style offense, an offense that is easier to recruit for. The coaches are doing just fine. Be patient. Florida will be great again soon. Look at the bright side…would you rather be FSU or Miami?

  5. I’m more inclined to go with the comments by William than the others, who are more “rah, rah, we love you win or lose”…..get real guys. There are so many more problems than simply demanding the players get on board and buying into the system, or else! I haven’t seen it mentioned anywhere, but it does seem the Gators were outcoached in both games. Both Bama & LSU seemed to know what our play was going to be at crucial times, while we had no clue what they were going to do.

  6. The main problem here is not with the players, it is with our system. By that I mean our system of changing coaches as frequently as most people change underwear. For some odd reason we believe that we have a magical aura that surrounds the Gator program, and all one has to do is strap on the Orange and Blue, or become one of the coaches, and that factor alone makes them the best in country at what they do, bar none. We as fans have been spoiled by a great coach who rescued this program from the gutter and took it to new heights. Another good coach who had a record most programs would be proud of and was tactlessly forced out before his time due to his inability to fit in. Our next coach had a new exciting (flash in the pan) system that worked to perfection as long as he had a “Tebow” or “Newton” type player to run it. When he did not, he proved that he had no answers and was prone to esophageal spasms (panic attacks). His family “finally” became more important when he was unable to handle the stress of a job that many, many others across the nation can handle. How bout we actually don’t go off a cliff, and not expect Will to win a Nat’l Championship his first or second year. How bout we give him a while and see what he can do when he gets his own players on board and buying into a system that might work. For if we stay on this coaching carousel, we are destined for failure.

  7. Reality bites? You wouldn’t know reality if it DID bite you.
    .
    Zooker had his shot, he had no control over is players, got involved in frat house fights, and frankly, coached scared. Remember all those great defenses under Meyers? Same DC as Zook had, only Meyer let the Charlie Strong be aggressive and gamble, while Zook forced us to sit in a two-deep zone all game. After the Swindle and the slap fight game with UT, it was obvious that Zook was cursed. He should have been let go SOONER.

    As for Meyer, he took elite players, who fit perfectly i his system, AND WON CHAMPIONSHIPS. Yes, his fall was as fast as his rise. BUt his rise was pretty darn high. When your 105 year old football program has three titles,and two of them are under one guy who only coached for 6 years, YOU BUILD STATUES.
    .
    Nobody is throwing Will under the bus. But, the idea that he needs to fine tune his staff is valid. That might mean replacement, it might mean more training and direction. But you always look to improve.
    .
    Considering that this team is at least 15 scholarships down, and is running a pro style offense with spread players and a 3-4 defense with 4-3 players, I think we are doing about as well as we could have hoped.

  8. Coach Muschamp will not settle for mediocrity…all Robbie’s article is saying is this is where we were in 2005 and drawing comparisons…looking ahead I do agree that alot needs to change and believe our coaching staff is talented and experienced enough to make it happen.

  9. I sit here and read all the comments and agree with some and disagree with more. From what I watched two weeks ago was a Alabama team that was not 28 points better, but definetly better then us. Losing Brantley made that close game into a blow out. LSU was not 31 points better either and I definetly believe Alabama is the better team. What Florida needs to do is just let the GHOST Jeff Demps go run track. In is career he has never showed up in any big game and never will because those feet are for track not football. It is time to put Gillislee in and let him play. And the only thing this offense does not have is that true strong running back. We have receivers and a quarterback so don’t blame the previous coaching style to why we are not winning. Personaly I was not expecting a national title this year. What Florida is lacking and fans are looking for is that Brandon Siler or Tim Tebow moment that unifies this team. And this defense was in the middle of switching to a 3-4 last year. If we can land 2-3 Linebackers that could help us but our o-line and secondary needs to improve. I still think we can win the East. I also think Brissett looked more comfortable against LSU then Driskell has looked all year. Go Gators

  10. Football is a violent, physical game and you must be able to run the ‘predictable’ dive play and get 4 or 5 yards to survive. The OC was setting up plays well, the ‘young’ players just weren’t executing — case in point — the bootleg swing passes that would’ve been TD’s or long gainers had they not been over thrown.

    Our personnel up front just aren’t there. We’re three years away…

  11. I don’t understand how Florida is manhandled by power teams on the line of scrimmage. Too many missed blocks on the offensive line and defensive line players looking confused as to what they are supposed to do. How come Alabama, Auburn…get o/d line players who perform so well and Fl can’t seem to find them? Strange? It’s not just that Fl recruited linemen for the spread, our guys are big too but just seem incompetent! What gives? And these quarterback injuries probably wouldn’t have happened if the o-blocked their man!!

  12. I have the utmost confidence in Muschamp and his staff. Anybody who has listened to Muschamp for five minutes knows that this guy will not tolerate mediocrity or failure! He’s a winner and he will build this program the right way. Right now there are guys on this football team that he would like to get rid of but he can’t because he literally needs bodies. I suspect in the off-season you’re going to see a wholesale remaking of Florida football.

    You have to understand that one off-season is not enough time to fully rebuild a program that had deteriorated the way this one did in 2010. I can’t wait to see the kinds of players that Champ brings in for his first class. I think you’re going to see something pretty special and exciting.

    As this is his transition year, you really have to give him a pass on the results of this season. I don’t think anybody was sold on Urban Meyer and that hideous spread offense 6 games into the 2005 season. Let Muschamp bring in HIS guys and fully install his systems before casting any judgment on what he can do.

    As Lizard noted, he’s not even got a full allotment of scholarship players right now so he can’t help but be thin at almost every position, which we are—except quarterback, thankfully.

  13. Isn’t Durkin our LB coach, and was last year too? They have underperformed for 2 years now. The huge holes are there for 2 reasons: the linemen aren’t shedding ANY blocks, and the LBs are over pursuing and getting caught up in blocks. I think they need some new instruction there for sure. Does Powell fall under the LB coach? If so, that position has been way too quiet for being a play making position, or Powell is just over-hyped.
    I think this team is about what it was expected to be, and everyone got too excited with the 4-0 start. Let’s see how things play out this year, and look for a lot of improvement next year.
    Go Gators!!

  14. I don’t think there is too much to blame right now as we find our way. The coaches can only do so much with players that were recruited to run the spread, including lighter faster linemen who get manhandled by bigger linemen from power offenses. Nothing Muschamp and other coaches can do about that…

    Penalties!!! When is the last time Florida WAS NOT one of the most penalized teams in the country? We are number 2 right now, but I am sure we can become number one shortly! How many drives are killed by some stupid penalty? This is something the coaches can work on, but being that it is our history I would imagine the problem is deeper in our recruiting base psyche than anything else since it has affected all Florida coaches.

    Change schemes with every new coaching staff. This is more of a Foley thing, but perhaps when Muschamp leaves (hopefully as a successful coach) Foley or whoever the AD is will find a coach with the same style system so there is a less dramatic change. Ever scheme we change to costs us a year or two in transition. Stay with the same scheme and find a great coach with same outlook and it lessens the transition. No one seems to mentino this factor, but look at the offensive changes between Spurrier, Zook, Meyer, and now Muschamp. These are not small tweaks to the system each time, they are massive overhauls. Let’s become a power team like Alabama and stick with it. The .03 difference in 40 yard dash speeds don’t mean much, but having both lines dominated by bruising lineman will control the game no matter what offense/defense is out there.

  15. wow…some of these comments are really crazy…this is a young team with a new coaching staff who just played two of the top teams in the country the past two weeks…duh!!!!!!!!!!!all i want to see is for this team to get better and realize what level of play they will need to play at to get back up there…i like this coaching staff…just have to get more players…but i don’t like our offense line…we only have one guy over 300lbs…so maybe that might explain alot too…ijs….

  16. Yeah, as I said the lighter faster linemen just cannot hold their own in a pushing competition against bigger stronger linemen. They were just recruited for a different scheme and it will take us another year at least to start loading up on the big guys up front. Although one bright spot, it should make recruiting linemen fairly easy for the next year or two since there is an obvious need at Florida where other schools already have the depth.

    The coaches are doing well with what they have considering how bad this team performed last year for the system they were actually recruited to play in! Give credit to the staff, and the players, while they try to find something in the middle they can all work on this year.

  17. So how come I didn’t read this stuff about changes in players/coaches/systems while FLA was 4-0.Only now that we lose 2 games,to 1/2 in the country are the experts coming out with comments.i am a Gator and YES win or lose that will be me.I a lower paying booster,but I send mine each year.Why because,just becuase.Will/Charlie/other coaches/players/etc will get it right and things will be ok.Wait a little bit before mouthing off.Go GATORS

  18. Ive seen a few valid points here, but the problems are coming from youth and coaching. Weis is fine with offense. We are playing freshman QBs, with an inconsistent o-line, no elite WRs, no blocking TEs, and spread runnings who are great but cannot run 30 yards sideways across the line of scrimmage against elite defenses. Rainey will go wild against most teams, no the LSUs or Bamas. No shock there. Spread RBs in a Pro system. Defensively, Quinn might have to go. This who buddy system of hiring your staff could be failing again. The D-line isnt being coach up at all. Theres an ocean of talent in this front 7 and they are getting manhandled and getting 0 pass rush. I dont except that. Quinn is a d-line guy too. The secondary is young and is good enough now to mangage, they will get better. Muschamp needs to take over the defense himself. Coaching WINS. Coaches WIN. Bottom line.

  19. Some of these comment are crazy, indeed! Some people need to learn a little about football before being so quick to throw a coaching staff under the bus! This is a young team and we do not have a full roster. Any first year coaching staff, especially in college where they have very little time to work with the players, has to build a foundation! While doing so, there are going to be some stones put in the wrong place, initially and they have to be taken out! This coaching staff is just now starting to learn what they have to work with. I am quite confident that the coaches we have will begin to put things in their proper place! I do, however, agree with the comment about Durkin! That fake punt, Saturday was just embarassing! We have plenty of talent to have one of the bext special teams in the nation, regardless of age! The LB play has been terrible. I have said it before, Jelani Jenkins needs to be playing Safety! He is not big enough to play the position he is playing! He has the speed to play Safety, so, I wish they would move him and put the new kid in his place – Henry, I believe. We’re going to be back on top! I don’t see failure in Muschamp, at all and any comparison to Zook is just crazy!

  20. We are short of talent, have not adjusted to the new system on D, and short of numbers. I question why we don’t run at least 4 DL’s since much of the run problem is allowing blockers to get to the LB’s and them not being able to shed them quickly, at least against the previous two opponents.

    On offense our line can protect somewhat, but has difficulty run blocking consistantly against top competition and perhaps against normal. We will learn much this week.

  21. There seems to be 2 extremes here: one extreme concludes that because we have played so poorly the past 2 weeks, there needs to be immediate and significant changes in coaching staff and player personnel, and that this season is basically over. The other extreme concludes that our problems are almost exclusively related to the lack of head-coaching experience, our young players, and the unfortunate QB situation with Brantley’s injury and him being backed up by 3 freshmen.

    As to the 2nd extreme: no one should have expected us to beat Bama or LSU, but we SHOULD have expected to compete much better, regardless of new coaches or young players. Our coaches and players come with an extremely high reputation when it comes to projected ability. I would say for any FBS top 50 or 60 team, to lose by a combined 58 points to any 2 teams in back to back weeks — even if it is the 2 best teams in the country — is always EMBARRASSING. Even just from a sheer pride standpoint, there is too much in parody in college football these days to rationalize losing by that much, in the manner we did (essentially being beat up).

    On the other hand, I’ll address the 1st extreme by saying it is still only 2 weeks out of a 12 week season, and I agree it is way too early to make judgments to the level of adjusting the coaching staff, even if you’re just talking assistants. Who is to say that we won’t rally against Auburn? That would do wonders for this year’s team, because we would head into the bye week with a win, rest up, and possibly have Brantley back for Georgia. And I do think we will improve a lot between this year and next year.

  22. The obvious thing is that the Gators are racking up penalties like a totally uncoached undisciplined team. I thought we recruited the dream defensive line last year but these guys are playing like true freshmen still instead of sophomores and upperclassmen. I knew we were in for a long night when Alabama shoved it down our throats, running the ball right between the tackles successfully on their opening drive (albeit they had to settle for a field goal). We have to learn how to run block – maybe the coaches and players need to study Alabama and LSU game film to see competent run blocking. Poor line play and excessive penalties speaks to poor coaching. I wish Muschamp would stop looking like an immature idiot ranting at whoever comes within earshot, screaming his head off, spitting with his moppy hair and jowls jiggling like a moron. Maybe it’s this lack of discipline and composure that he is instilling in the team. I fear we may have another Zook on our hands.

  23. Sports Psychology says that athletes when under stress revert back to old habits. The last two game were very stressful for the Gators therefore they started doing things their way instead of the way they were coached. Coach Mushamp is doing the right thing by telling the players “my way or the highway”!

  24. this league is pretty siimple, make the o and d line your recuriting priority every year and then get a good tackle breaking durable tailback like alabams seems to have 2 or 3 of every year, keep the penalties down and run ball control offense. if you can manage that youll always be competitive. all the emphasis on speed first recruiting isnt going to work most of the time. mushcamp could do a lot worse than just copying sabans stategies at this point.

  25. The players transferring from UF…are those some of the ones that Coach Muschamp says are not really committed to the Gators and don’t play hard? I would love to see Fl use as many scholarships as they are allowed to get some really good players who do want to be Gators and will work hard. A couple more good recruiting years and the Gators will be back in elite status. This must be a really hard coaching transition for some of the players, at least some act this way. Time to grow up guys!!

  26. I get losing to Bama and LSU this year but getting blown out is disgraceful. Wasn’t WM advertised as a defensive guru? Guess it was false advertising. At this point we would get throttled by half the teams in the All Cupcake Conference like GaTech, Clemson, VT (maybe even WF at this point!). Who knows how many points FSU will rack up this year especially when their QB is fully back. I’m really worried that since Tebow’s departure we’ve had our moment and now we can only hope to be just another top 25 team. I need someone to pick me up here and give me some good news.

  27. Everyone got too excited beating the first 4 teams who weren’t very good at all.. We did that by running demps and rainey the entire game and playing it safe with brantley.. That was a recipe for disaster to began with… They never threw down the field with brantley almost as if they were afraid too… None of those things would work against any DECENT sec team not just the BEST ones..We lose to bama with or without brantley for the simple fact that we could not tackle. And after the pick 6 the game pretty much shifted…

  28. the tackling problem isn’t going anywhere this season… It happened again against lsu.. this week it’s dyer.. Last i checked brantley doesn’t play linebacker… If we have to score 43 points to win against tough sec competition due to the defense struggling we won’t win if Tom brady was at QB.. Not to mention Our running game is terrible… Give this staff 3 or 4 years pleeeasse… Bottom line. We need better players.

  29. Man, Calm down and get back to reality.
    New coaches acrosss the board, young players, injured starting QB, and his back-up, toughtest conference in the nation, and Bama and LSU back-to-back.
    What did you expect? Really, be honset. If you thought we had a chance of winning these two games even with Brantley, you need to quit smoking whatever is rotting your brain.
    We do not know what we have yet, but give Champ a chance. Yes he got outcoached by Saban and Miles, he has coached a total of 6 games as a head coach!
    Take a few seconds, breath deep, now, doesn’t that feel better?
    Gp Gators!

  30. I don’t get it. We were never expected to be able to compete with Bama or LSU this year. Most prognosticators were saying we can’t compete with South Carolina earlier this year. I got excited after the first four games, too. I thought for about a week that we were about to explode onto the scene as a contender. But that doesn’t change anything. This team is still right where we hoped it would be at this point. There are a ton of positive signs. Get a life, go get laid. Let this team develop.