When the Gators were sitting at 5-5 late in the season, Charlie Weis made the comment that UF did not look like a 5-5 team. A little more than a month later, the Gators certainly are not acting like a 6-6 team that needs to beat Ohio State to avoid a losing season.
At Saturday’s Gator Bowl news conference, Will Muschamp and five of his seniors kind of seemed more like a 10-win team that’s been on a late-season role. Sharing the podium, Muschamp and the players were upbeat, not just about Monday’s game, but also the future of the program.
Muschamp and the players poked some friendly fun at each other and shared some laughs on the podium. This appears to be a team that’s relaxed, confident and prepared to play this game.
As he has been throughout the hard times, Muschamp remains optimistic, saying the program is heading in the right direction.
“Coaching at the University of Florida is a dream of mine,” Muschamp said. “I’m excited about work every day. Frustrated with the results maybe at times, but from the standpoint of how our players have worked, how they’ve committed themselves, and these guys up here I think have done a good job.
“Is it the results we want? No. Are we where we want to be? No. But, have I seen improvements and improvements within our program sometimes inside the building that maybe people don’t see, we’ve made tremendous strides as a team. It was a tough situation that we inherited, quite honestly, so I think we’ve made tremendous strides.”
Based on the interaction I saw among the players and Muschamp on Saturday, it appears the players really like and respect their coach — and believe the program will rise under Muschamp.
Monday’s game is a huge next step.