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2 posts from November 13, 2013

November 13, 2013

1000% Committed

GAINESVILLE -- Florida -- a preseason top 10 team -- appears poised for its first losing season since 1979, but embattled head coach Will Muschamp has not lost the support of the UF administration.

For the first time since hiring Muschamp in December 2010, athletics director Jeremy Foley and school president Bernie Machen publically reaffirmed their commitment to Muschamp in an official statement released on the school website Wednesday afternoon.

“As athletic director, I’m a thousand percent convinced that Will Muschamp is the guy to lead this football program,’’ Foley said. “Nothing has changed in what we feel about Will Muschamp from the day we hired him. “Everyone around here wants the same thing. We want to do what is right for the University of Florida. We understand that this football season has not gone the way any of us wanted it to go, certainly not the way our fans wanted it to go, and most of all, not the way Will Muschamp wanted it to go.”

Media.247sports.com(Courtesy media.247sports.com)

Added Machen: “I want the Gator Nation to know that I have full confidence in Coach Muschamp and his leadership of the football program.’’

Muschamp is 22-13 as Florida’s coach. The Gators went 11-2 just a season ago, but in the midst of their  second four-game losing streak in three seasons -- Florida’s only such skids since 1990 -- the Gator Nation has grown restless.

Florida was humiliated last Saturday, losing to Vanderbilt 34-17 at home for the first time since World War II (1945). 

But despite a season marred by injuries (10 season-ending surgeries), offensive ineptitude (a likely third-straight finish in the bottom-20 nationally in total offense) and all the wrong records being broken (Florida’s 22-season bowl streak), Foley remains assured Muschamp is the right man for the job.

“I understand the passion and the disappointment,’’ Foley said. “But at the end of the day, we’ve got great fans, they love the Gators and their passion makes this place special. They are hurting, they want the program to be successful and we feel that hurt.”

“We have a history of being successful, we have a history of fixing things when they need to be fixed, and that is what is going to happen here, and Coach Muschamp is the one that will fix it.”

Muschamp’s contract runs through 2017. Foley pleaded for fans’ patience, while also citing his faith in Muschamp’s coaching abilities.

“We will get better under Will Muschamp’s leadership,’’ Foley said. “This is not the quote-unquote dreaded ‘vote of confidence.’ This is just how we all feel around here. We have a strong faith and a strong belief in his capabilities, in his leadership skills, in his ability to evaluate what needs to be fixed.”

“Go back to a year ago: we’re 11-1 and beat four teams in the Top 10 and he was SEC Coach of the Year. I don’t think that was a fluke. I think coaching had a lot to do with that. We’ll stay the course here. We’ll get it right. We’re not going to let Gator fans down. We want the same thing they want.”

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

With pressure mounting, Pease blocks out the noise

GAINESVILLE -- Brent Pease is not oblivious to the criticism. Florida’s embattled offensive coordinator hears fans’ frustrations. But ultimately, UF’s second-year coordinator is ignoring the noise by practicing what he preaches.

"It's the same thing we tell the kids, you've got to be mentally tough. You've got to shut it out sometimes,” he said. “And I understand what people are saying and frustrated with. Do they understand all of the circumstances? Not all of the time. But you've got to work through it. In my situation I don't think you can lose confidence in who you are and what you believe in and how you have got to do your job.”

Florida’s woeful offense is destined for a third consecutive finish in the bottom-20 in all of college football. The Gators rank No. 111 nationally and last in the SEC in total offense. UF is also last in league in touchdowns and yards per play (4.82) -- the only team in the conference averaging less than 5.33 per touch.   

Pease(Courtesy bullgator.com)

With the injuries, ineptitude and a swelling cacophony of vitriol aimed in his direction, Pease admitted he’s pondered his job security.

“I mean, it’s human nature to probably think about that,” he said. “But I still got an obligation to this team, and the head coach, and the players I coach and the administration that I work for.”

Quarterback Tyler Murphy said Pease’s demeanor and daily drive hasn’t changed at all though during the team’s recent tough stretch.

“He's still working hard, still coaching hard. Still treats everyone the same. I haven't noticed a change in him. He's upset with how we're performing and that we're losing but he's still working hard day in and day out,” Murphy said.

Murphy also voiced support for Pease, saying the coach absolutely puts the players in the best position to succeed but they’re simply not making enough plays.

“Coach Pease calls plays and puts us in good situations. We just haven’t been successful as players doing that. We have to hold ourselves accountable and find ways to get the job done,” he said.

Although Pease has definitely struggled with player development during his time in Gainesville, injuries have derailed his coaching abilities this season.

Five offensive players -- starting quarterback Jeff Driskel, starting tailback Matt Jones, starting offensive tackles Tyler Moore and Chaz Green and wideout Andre Debose -- have been lost for the year to season-ending injuries, while another handful of key contributors -- right guard Jon Halapio, left tackle D.J. Humphries and hybrid tailback Valdez Showers -- have missed action too.

“It’s tough, and I mean, what are you going to do?,” Pease said. “You got to play the cards you’re dealt.”

But while Florida has flopped mostly 2’s and 7’s, players continue to endorse their beleaguered coach.

“It's a team thing. It's not just Brent. It's not just coach Pease that's affecting the team,” fifth-year senior center Jonotthan Harrison said.  “No, it's a team thing from the players, from the leadership of the players, from coaching. Whatever it is, it's just a whole team thing and we just need to pull tighter as a team. There's no one person that we can really blame for any of our problems. We just need to pull tighter as a team and gel as a team as a whole.”

Harrison added: “It is unfair to blame coach Pease for everything.” 

ICYMI: Reeling Gators may be forced to start their third-string quarterback this weekend. And coach Will Muschamp fumes over Florida's persistent penalty problem

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton


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