"There's a lot of negativity out there, and some of our fans need to get a grip," Will Muschamp said, with knuckles taped on his right hand after punching a chalkboard at halftime. "They really do. We have a bunch of kids in that locker room fighting their butt off. You can criticize me all you want. I'm great with that. They pay me enough money to deal with it, but those kids don't. They fought their butts off, and they continue to fight and play hard. Nobody has ever questioned their efforts.
"I'm just extremely proud of them and of the resolve and the fight and coming together like Florida Gators do. Extremely proud of them. We just couldn't get it done. That's my fault. Nobody else's fault."
Muschamp spent most of his postgame press conference praising the effort of his team. Despite the criticism the team has taken in recent weeks after blows from injuries and difficult losses, they responded on Saturday in Columbia. They didn't get the win against No. 10 South Carolina, but for Muschamp, Saturday showed progress and a team that isn't going to give up with its season coming to an end.
Heading into the final two games of the season, 4-6 Florida needs to beat Georgia Southern and Florida State to become bowl eligible. Losing one would mean the first non-sanctioned season without a bowl since 1979.
The 4-6 record hasn't weakened the support of Muschamp from Florida administration, as athletic director Jeremy Foley and president Bernie Machen released a statement this week in full favor of the head coach.
"I'm very appreciative of Jeremy and Dr. Machen," Muschamp said. "Thank goodness I have two guys that see the big picture and understand where we're headed with the program, where we were, in a two-year period what we've accomplished and understand the circumstances we're in right now. And more than anything, where we're headed.
"They're in the day-to-day operation, so it's very rewarding to have a strong athletic director and a strong president that's willing to stand up and fight for what's right. And I appreciate that very much."
GAME PLAN: With Tyler Murphy (shoulder) out on Saturday, the Gators didn't want to put redshirt freshman Skyler Mornhinweg in an impossible situation. They kept the ball on the ground and limited the number of throws Mornhinweg had to make. He ended the game 10-13 for 107 yards and one interception, which sealed the game for South Carolina.With the difficult first start on the road in front of a season-high crowd at Williams-Brice Stadium, the Gators tried to ease Mornhinweg into the game.
"We followed the script in what we felt we needed to do to win the game," Muschamp said. "Ball possession, field position, eat the clock, play good defense, which we did for the most part through the night against a very good offensive football team. Extremely proud of the players who continue to fight in the game.
"There's a lot of negativity out there, and these guys pulled together and showed you something."
INJURY/SUSPENSION UPDATE: Murphy went through some drills before Saturday's game, but he didn't dress and was ruled out before kickoff. Muschamp wasn't ready to make a call on him for next weekend's game against Georgia Southern but did say that Murphy isn't ruled out for the season.
"It's all about time and healing," Muschamp said. "I don't know yet."
Starting cornerback Marcus Roberson was suspended on Saturday for a violation of team rules that occurred this week. Muschamp said his ankle injury might have kept him out of the game either way. The head coach and Roberson will meet on Monday morning to discuss his future with the team this season.
TAYLOR STANDS OUT: Freshman running back Kelvin Taylor earned his third straight start and had his best game of the year. He set a career high with 96 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries, averaging 4.6 yards per carry."He continues to mature at the position," Muschamp said. "He carries himself very well. He's got really good vision and very good initial quickness in the hole. He's a one-cut runner. He gets the ball north and south. He runs the ball hard. The power play is probably his best run, that and the inside zone, because he's got really good vision for the cutback on the backside."
The run game featured runs of 20 yards or more from Mack Brown, Valdez Showers and Taylor. It was the first Southeastern Conference game this season the Gators had three runs of 20+ yards, and all three came within the first 16 minutes of the game on Saturday.