Muschamp Searching for Answers

With errors in most facets of the game, the Gators were eliminated from the SEC East race on Saturday. October was easily the toughest month on the schedule, but after going 0-4, the challenge is now for head coach Will Muschamp to hold the team together. Playing for pride and the senior class now becomes the goal.

"That's the way it always is with me," Muschamp said after the game. "I don't ever really talk about the SEC race. I talk about what we have to do to get better as a program and stay with what we're trying to do. We understand our expectations. The University of Florida has to go to Atlanta."

Despite the team's play in the month of October, Muschamp doesn't think a return to Atlanta is that far off for the Gators. There are obvious issues on both lines of scrimmage, but when those are fixed, the head coach thinks his program will be back in contention for the conference title every year.

"I think we're close," Muschamp said. "We've got to build our numbers back and get better on the line of scrimmage. It's very difficult to run a power running game with who we have. I like the guys we've got, but you have to look at situations and where we are. It doesn't take anybody real educated to figure it out right now, but sometimes it does."

INJURY UPDATE: Muschamp said throughout the week that cornerback Jeremy Brown would be the only injured Florida player that didn't play, but several Gators were held out because of injuries. Kicker Caleb Sturgis didn't kick all week after he strained his leg at Auburn, and after testing it before the game, he wasn't able to play.

Running back Mike Gillislee also was held out because of an ankle injury he suffered at Auburn. Offensive tackle Chaz Green injured his ankle on Wednesday and didn't play. Cody Riggs hurt his wrist and was held out of the game, while Jelani Jenkins was also pulled with an undisclosed injury.

RUN GAME SLOWED: The decimation of the Florida offense in October started when John Brantley was injured against Alabama, but it continued when the Gators couldn't run the ball during the month.

In the four October losses, the Gators combined for 175 yards rushing. Georgia ran for 185 yards on Saturday alone.

"We've got to find some ways to run the football," Muschamp said. "We cannot be so one-dimensional. That's something we have to work on."

Brantley's ankle forced Florida to run a majority of the game out of the shotgun because of his inability to turn and handle the ball off while under center.

"No question (that) affects the run game," Muschamp said. "When you're in the game so much and run the ball east and west, you need to be able to run the ball downhill. When you're in the gun, it's hard to run it consistently downhill."

The Gators inability to get a running game going also allowed Georgia's pass rush to tee off on Brantley. For an already struggling Florida offense line, that was a recipe for disaster. The Bulldogs registered six sacks, four that came from linebacker Jarvis Jones.

"That's why you've got to have some run game to slow down the rush," Muschamp said. "It's tough when the tackles have to kick out to block the edge rushers. We need to go back and evaluate the run game and figure out ways to run the football."

The off week gave Brantley a chance to get healthy, but it also brought a change for offensive coordinator Charlie Weis. After being on the sideline for the entire season, he moved up to the press box for the Georgia game and sent running backs coach Brian White back onto the field.

"Just to see the game better," Muschamp said. "We didn't feel like we were getting the information right. We're searching for some answers offensively to find out what we can do. That's something we felt like we could benefit from."

PENALTIES A PROBLEM: The Gators were plagued with penalties all season, and despite vowing changes to after the bye week, they returned against Georgia. Florida was penalized 14 times for 106 yards. The Bulldogs were only charged with four penalties for 22 yards.

"There are two different parts to penalties," Muschamp said. "Some of them are undisciplined, and those are the ones that are tough to deal with. I've got to do a better job with the others, so I'll work on it."

Pass interferences were a struggle for the defensive backs. After three games where opposing teams haven't thrown the ball more than 20 times, Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray exposed the youth of the Florida secondary.

"We were in position," Muschamp said. "There were a couple well thrown balls and well caught balls. Both touchdowns, they were in position to make plays and we were playing the ball, but the guy was in position to make a play. They're on scholarship, too."


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