Players talked after the game about Jon Halapio, Jeff Driskel and Xavier Nixon stepping up to address the team in the locker room. The message was to avoid letting last year happen all over again. The first loss in 2011 came during the fifth week of the year, and after that, it came crashing down in a hurry.
The signs are more positive during 2012. The Gators started out with a 7-0 record in a much tougher early schedule than last season before dropping the game to Georgia. The one-loss Florida team is still in the hunt for a BCS bowl and could get a berth in the SEC Championship game depending on how the next two games go for Georgia.
The Gators just don't want a repeat from what happened in 2011.
"I think it's a very positive sign of the character you have in the locker room and the competitive edge you have in the locker room," Muschamp said. "You've got a bunch of guys that, when it wasn't going well, they continued to play hard, continued to fight, continued to do what they had to do. You have days at the office like that. When things don't go well, you continue to play and play through it and the kids did."
Driskel's ability to stand up in front of the team and handle the situation was a sign of the sophomore's maturity, despite barely playing last season. He turned the ball over four total times — two fumbles and two interceptions — during a game that was easily his worst of the year.
"I talked to him yesterday," Muschamp said. "That's art of being the quarterback at the University of Florida. You get in that situation. Could he have made decisions? Certainly, he recognizes that. We also need to play better around him. We need to protect better. We need to be more precise with our route running. We need to do a better b of running the football. There are a lot of things that revolve around that position that we can do a better job of."
GILLISLEE RUN GAME: Opposing teams have focused on taking away running back Mike Gillislee in the last three weeks, and it has work. Since his 146-yard, two-touchdown effort against LSU, Gillislee has totaled 58 carries, 181 yards and zero touchdowns over the last three games against Vanderbilt, South Carolina and Georgia."I think people have done a better job of adjusting to some of the things we're doing, some of the extra linemen and the things we're doing," Muschamp said. "The misdirection runs haven't been hitting as well. That's what's really been good for us throughout the year. We're continuing to look at that and find different ways to run it.
"In our league, they catch up pretty quick with you as far as the things you're doing. You've got to continue to stay advanced in what you're doing. I think we'll have a good plan this week again to run it. I think we had a good plan last week. We got whipped at the point of attack, quite frankly. We need to win some of those. You've got to win some one-on-ones in this league. We've got to do a better job winning some of those."?
The lack of a deep passing threat continues to stand out in the Florida offense. It keeps opposing defenses from respecting the pass play and allows the box to be loaded against the Florida offense. Muschamp talked about it after the game against Georgia, and it was even more evident when the coaches flipped on the film.
The pass blocking isn't holding up, either. Whether it's a blown assignment by a lineman or a tight end not picking up the extra rusher, the Gators are struggling to give Jeff Driskel time to throw.
"It's a combination of things that we've got to do and see the things that come open in situations," Muschamp said. "It's not falling on one person's or one position's shoulders, I can assure you of that. It's a combination of things and it's something that we, as a staff, have been working through the entire season and knowing that we need to continue to work on it and improve with it. I do think we've made some strides, but it certainly wasn't good enough Saturday."
Brent Pease's offense. He was the player Florida used on the jet sweep plays, and the play was used to stretch defenses horizontally with his speed. The Gators are now searching to find someone who can fill that role.
"He was having a fantastic year," Muschamp said. "He does a lot for us on offense. Great young man who's really given a lot to our program in the two years I've been here, but he'll be back in the spring and be fine.
"Andre (Debose) needs to step it up a little bit and help us in some situations there. We have to fill the void of what he gives you from a dynamic playmaker standpoint. He's a guy that can get on the edge and do some good things."