Muschamp Relieved by Victory

Florida head coach Will Muschamp didn't care how it happened or what it looked like—his team needed a win. It came with a 26-21 win over Vanderbilt on Saturday. Florida allowed the Commodores to sneak back into the game in the second half, but Muschamp thought the increased chemistry in recent weeks helped the team close out the first win in over a month.

"I'm really proud of our team for continuing to push, practice and compete like they did," Muschamp said. "Every day in practice, I've never been disappointed with how we approached it, regardless of what has happened."

After Vanderbilt got on the board midway through the third quarter, the Commodores carried the momentum throughout the game. When Jeff Demps broke a 52-yard touchdown run to give Florida a 26-14 lead in the fourth quarter, Vanderbilt still made it close on the back of quarterback Jordan Rodgers, who marched them down the field and threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Chris Boyd to cut the lead to 26-21. Florida would recover the onside kick and hold on to win.

Despite Vanderbilt having plenty of momentum in the second half and the ability to win the game, Muschamp was pleased with the way his team held together.

"That's the way they've been all year," Muschamp said of his team. "They continue to fight. I told them adversity creates division or it unifies you. These guys have pulled together. You could walk on our practice field this Monday and wouldn't know if we were 5-4 or 9-0 by the way they compete on the practice field."

Muschamp has been clear with his players about the up-and-down nature of the season. He wants his players to remember the tough times and use it as motivation for the future.

"We're building our battle scars," Muschamp said. "I know one thing, we're going to have a tough group and if we continue to move forward with this, those guys are going to be tight together and we will benefit from the tough times we're traveling through. People better enjoy it while they've got it."

INJURY REPORT: Chris Rainey was a game-time decision and didn't play. Lerentee McCray and Jelani Jenkins were held out with injuries suffered during the Georgia game, while Chaz Green didn't play after being hurt in practice before the Georgia game.

John Brantley took a hit to the arm late in the game that took him out of the game. He stayed on the sidelines for the end of the game and had his arm wrapped in ice as he went into the locker room after the game. He wouldn't address his status after the game, instead saying the Muschamp will speak to the media about it on Monday.

OFFENSE BALANCE: The Gators used the passing game to open up the running game on Saturday. After Florida rushed for just 175 yards in the four October losses, the Gators went for 197 yards on the ground against Vanderbilt.

Muschamp thought Brantley's ability to spread the ball around opened up the running game.

"When people in this league are able to outnumber you, you can't get a hat on a hat and you have a hard time running it," Muschamp said. "We faced that. When John is in there and you have the advantage of getting it to the right people and the timing of the offense, we're able to do a lot more because of a fifth-year senior and a guy who has played a lot of football for us."

That's why the Gators tried so hard to get a run game going, even in recent weeks when it wasn't working. Muschamp wants a balanced offense that will be able to control the clock on the ground and open up play action throws. With Brantley's ankle still limiting him from playing under center, the Gators ran the ball out of the pistol formation on Saturday.

"We're going to run the ball," Muschamp said. "I've been in this league as an assistant for a long time, and if you can't run the ball, it gets one-dimensional and you can't win consistently. The fronts are too good in this league and your quarterback won't make it through the season."

With Rainey out, Demps was the beneficiary. The senior ran the ball 23 times for 158 yards and two touchdowns.

"Jeff is an outstanding player," Muschamp said. "Every time he has been healthy for us, he has been very productive. He's a great teammate and has been great for the University of Florida. He's got a 3.5 GPA and he gives you everything he has every day. That's what you want in a student athlete."

DEFENDING THE PASS: The Gators went into the locker room at halftime looking like they would cruise to a win. However, Rodgers threw for 220 yards in the second half and shredded the Florida secondary.

Muschamp said the play calls were still the same, but that the secondary was too afraid of giving up the big play.

"The first thing is that when you get put in those situations, like a two-score game with 2:13 to go, you still play coverage," Muschamp said. "We were calling coverages we had success with the whole game. Our guys just felt like ‘don't get beat deep,' and that's not what you in those situations.

"It's a great learning experience. Monday morning at six o'clock, we're going to learn that you can't play that way at the end of the game. You've got to continue to play the game."

CENTER CHANGE: After Jonotthan Harrison snapped a ball over Brantley's head in the second half, he was replaced by Sam Robey, who closed out the game at the position. The snaps were all over the place even when Brantley was able to catch them.

"We just need to be more consistent with our snaps," Muschamp said. "We've had issues throughout the year. I felt like we needed to make a change. We had some inconsistent snaps that were low. It's tough in the pistol to go low and then be able to locate the back for the handoff there. We had some inconsistencies before and in practice. Our decisions are pretty calculated."

Muschamp wasn't sure if the switch was permanent or not and said it will be determined through this week in practice.

"It's like any other position," he said. "You have to evaluate how you played and the opportunities you did with them. We'll do the best thing for our football program."


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