Is a quick fix possible?

Florida head coach Will Muschamp believes he will be the head coach next year in Gainesville, and he doesn't see a long rebuild, either. The injury list is lengthy and talented, and once those players return to the Florida roster in time for next season, Muschamp is confident his team will be back in the thick of the race for the SEC East.

When he accepted the job in Gainesville and took to the podium for his introductory press conference, Will Muschamp was clear with his expectations. The Florida head coach announced that night that he didn't expect the program to need a five-year rebuild to be competitive and that the expectations for the Florida program remained championships.

With one game remaining in the third year under Muschamp, the Gators are staring at their first season without a bowl game in a non-sanctioned year since 1979. As the rebuild continues, the hot seat for Muschamp gets even hotter.

However, the head coach insists that the issues on the field are fixable without much time.

"I think when you look at our roster there are some talented guys on our football team," Muschamp said.. "Some of them aren't available to us right at this point. We've got to do a better job of coaching our guys. I think absolutely, very quickly (it can be fixed)."

The injury report is a big reason why Muschamp thinks it can be fixed. Florida spent the offseason building the offensive game plan around quarterback Jeff Driskel and running back Matt Jones, but both of them were out for the year by the midway point of the season.

Defensive tackle Dominique Easley was on his way to an All-American season when he went down after a torn ACL in practice. The injury bug has now taken starting linebackers Antonio Morrison and Michael Taylor out.

And the list goes on.

For as long as the injury list is for the Gators, it's still tough to defend losses at home to Georgia Southern and Vanderbilt. But Muschamp is optimistic about the way the staff is recruiting to continue building the future of the program.

"(We) continue to recruit well," Muschamp said. "I think our last two classes, you look at the production of the field of those two classes have been very good. We've got to continue to put another class together like that. We need to make some improvements offensively. Defensively, we've been a little inconsistent this year. I think obviously we've taken a step back, in my opinion for some obvious reasons.

"At the end of the day, it's not an excuse. We need to perform better on the field and that's my responsibility. Those are the things that I see. We need to be more productive on the offensive side of the ball."

OFFENSIVE DEVELOPMENT: With the issues on the offensive side of the ball, player development has become a focus. The Gators are leaning on three seniors at wide receiver, and the offensive line has produced mixed reviews while fighting the injury bug in recent weeks.

Muschamp pointed to the receiver position where Trey Burton, Quinton Dunbar and Solomon Patton have all improved this season, but he thinks the offensive player development has been acceptable since he took over.

"I do. Up front, it's hard to judge this year, quite frankly," Muschamp said. "It's just difficult to say this guy has made a huge step in improvement. You take a young man like D.J. Humphries. I think he's missed six or seven games for us this year. It's hard to make an evaluation on that. You can't make an evaluation on Matt Jones, obviously what happened before the season.

"I think there's been some improvement across the board. At the end of the day it's about Saturday afternoon and how they perform from Saturday to Saturday, individually and then collectively."

PLUGGING IN LINEBACKERS: Without Morrison, Taylor and Alex Anzalone on Saturday, the linebacker position continues to be thin. Jarrad Davis is the only certainty to start, and Muschamp said Darrin Kitchens and Neiron Ball would serve as backups. Walk-on David Campbell could also see reps, as he did on Saturday against Georgia Southern.

Freshman Daniel McMillian has played on special teams this season but hasn't seen much time on defense because of a thumb injury.

"It's hard to play linebacker if you can't take a guy on," Muschamp said. "It's nothing he's missed any time with. We'll get him in to rep as well."

DEALING WITH RECRUITS: High school recruits don't ignore the heat that continues to build on the Florida coaching staff. Muschamp and his staff have talked to multiple recruits that are concerned about the swirling rumors.

"It's still the University of Florida," Muschamp said. "There's some obvious reasons why we are where we are. We're a team that won 11 games last year, and I don't think that happened by accident. We have a really good football staff. We have some good players on our football team. We're gonna have a good football team moving forward. At the end of the day, this is a great education, it's a great place to come compete and be a student athlete."

Fightin Gators Top Stories