Muschamp Encouraged and Challenged by Shutout

Near the end of Saturday night's 39-0 win over UAB, Will Muschamp had a message for defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. He told Quinn to cherish the moment of a shutout. As soon as the team got to the Florida locker room, that focus changed. Muschamp found plenty to focus on that needed correcting on the defensive side of the ball with the start of conference play just a week away.

"It's difficult for at any level of football to get a shutout." Will Muschamp said. "I was very proud of our defense, but you've got to attribute a lot of it to our offense and the ability to run the football. That was the plan was we went in at halftime."

Florida held the Blazers to 212 total yards, with 71 coming on the ground. UAB went 1-for-10 on third downs and only converted 11 first downs during the game.

This was supposed to be the game where the young Florida secondary would get its first test. After throwing for 2,940 yards and 25 touchdowns in nine starts last season, UAB senior quarterback Bryan Ellis threw for only 141 yards while completing 15-of-28 passes.

A lot of the passing game came through screens and short passes to get the ball in the hands of the Blazers' playmakers.

"They didn't do much vertically," Muschamp said. "We were prepared for that and knew they would be a huge screen team."

The defense only forced one turnover, but it was the first turnover of the season. Matt Elam stripped Darrin Reaves after a reception while freshmen cornerback Marcus Roberson emerged from the pile with the ball.

The one turnover is a step in the right direction, but it's still a work in progress.

"We want to get three," Muschamp said. "Your chances of winning a game go to 90% when you get three. It's 74% when you get two and below 50% when you get one. We just preach it over and over. It's all about the possession of the ball."

INJURY REPORT: Jeff Demps came out of the game in the first half with what Muschamp called a "bang on the shoulder." He ended the night with 20 total yards on three touches.

Jordan Reed also missed action after catching two passes for 19 yards, but Muschamp called it just a "twinge in his hamstring."

Jeremy Brown (knee) and Robert Clark (hamstring) didn't dress. Omarius Hines returned from a hamstring injury but didn't catch a pass.

BALL CONTROL OFFENSE: Muschamp recognized the offense for its part in helping the team get a shutout. The Gators dominated time of possession, having the ball for 36:29 compared to UAB's 23:31. That came from a dominant run game, which produced 300 yards on the ground.

Chris Rainey ended the night with 119 rushing yards and 43 receiving to lead the charge. When the Gators were trying to run time off the clock in the second half, they were able to do it despite the defense knowing what was coming.

"I'm very proud of being able to line up and run it when they know we're going to run it," Muschamp said. "We were still able to run it and take possession of the ball. We're going to have some games where we're going to have to do that. We're going to have to slow the tempo down offensively and play team football."

When Demps got injured after just three touches, Mike Gillislee was forced into action. He carried the ball eleven times for 79 yards and a touchdown. He brings a different punch to the Florida offense that could be useful if Demps needs to miss time.

"Mike brings some value to our team because he's different than what we have," Muschamp said. "Jeff and Chris are both speed, perimeter backs that we run inside purposely at times, but Mike can give us tough yards in the middle. We run a different path with inside power and inside zones that we like to run. He's a downhill runner."

RED ZONE STRUGGLES: It could have been worse for UAB than the 39 points Florida put up. The Gators kicked field goals on three of their first four trips into the red zone.

Muschamp blamed two issues for the problems.

"It was discipline issues and penalties," Muschamp said. "You can't put yourself behind the sticks offensively, especially in the red zone when the pass zone is condensed and it's tougher to run the football. We'll go back and look at it."

The Gators ended the night with nine penalties for 55 yards. Seven of them came in the first half and were ironed out at halftime.

Injuries were another factor. As Demps and Reed came out of the game, it forced the team to change what they were doing.

"We had a couple guys go down in drives," Muschamp said. "The substitutions put us behind with the play calling because we had to get the right personnel in the game. When we had a couple guys get banged up, we had to get the right guys in the game and that put is behind a little bit."

Caleb Sturgis went 3-for-3 on field goals Saturday, raising the coaching staff's confidence in him. That doesn't mean the coaches would like to use him in the red zone.

"It's demoralizing for an offense to kick field goals in the red zone," Muschamp said. "If they make a good play defensively, we can live with it. We don't like it, but we can live with it. When you shoot yourself in the foot, that's what you can't do. That's what we did tonight."

SUPPORTING SHARRIF: Muschamp didn't back down from his strong statement about the NCAA's ruling to suspend Sharrif Floyd for the game.

"I support Sharrif Floyd and my issue, I stand by it 100%," Muschamp said. "That's how I feel. I'm going to move on with it and we're going to move on with it as the University of Florida."

Tennessee COMING TO TOWN: Muschamp didn't speak much about the conference opener against the Volunteers next weekend. There are things to clean up on both sides of the ball, but the main goal was accomplished.

"We wanted to be 2-0, and that's what we are," Muschamp said.


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