“Fi-re Mus-champ.” They continued for a few minutes before dying out during a television timeout. Multiple individuals tried to start the chant early in the third quarter just below the press box, but late in the third quarter, it picked up steam and was audible throughout the stadium.
Muschamp, who is now 15-14 against SEC teams at Florida, said after the game that he didn’t hear it. Whether or not that’s the truth, the damage of a 42-13 home loss to Missouri seems like it will be impossible for Muschamp and his staff to overcome. The team will have a 3 p.m. meeting on Sunday afternoon to discuss how they’ll attack the bye week.
The Florida coach downplayed any talk about his job security after Saturday’s game ended.
“I’m really worried about this football team right now,” Will Muschamp said. “I’ll sit down with them and they need to understand the things we need to do to get better. I’m not going to get concerned about things I have no control over, other than this team. That’s the most important thing right now.”
Asked what his message for the fans was, Muschamp thanked them for creating great environments in The Swamp for back-to-back weeks.
“Our fans have been great,” Muschamp said. “I really appreciate the support. Last night, Gator Growl was outstanding. Our fans to start the game were outstanding. We need to play better.
“Just keep hanging with us. We need to go over to Jacksonville and get this thing fixed. That’s what we plan on doing.”
SPECIAL TEAMS BREAKDOWNS: The Gators allowed a kickoff return for a touchdown to open the game. It was the first time Florida allowed a kickoff to be returned for a touchdown since Ohio State returner Ted Ginn did it to open the 2006 national championship game.
This game had a different result.
Marcus Murphy tormented the Gators, returning the opening kickoff and later returning a punt for a touchdown, essentially clinching the SEC Special Teams Player of the Week by halftime.
The opening kickoff was a problem because kicker Austin Hardin put the ball in the middle of the field while the coverage was angled toward the corner of the field.
“Ball wasn’t kicked where it was supposed to be. Guy was supposed to kick it deep left, he kicks it middle,” Muschamp said. “Our kickoff return has been outstanding all season, we’ve never had any issue. We felt good going into the game. When you don’t kick the ball the way we squeeze the field, it creates issues. Austin kicked it right down the middle. That’s always an issue.”
DEFENSE A BRIGHT SPOT: In a game without many positives for Florida, the defense played well. Missouri put up 119 yards, with only 20 of those coming through the air.
But the truth is, the Tigers knew they could be as basic as possible on offense and still get out of Gainesville with a win.
“Defensively, I thought our kids played well enough to win the game,” Muschamp said. “(Missouri) didn’t have to do much, and they figured that out pretty quickly after it got to 28-0.
“We didn’t make them stress very much with what they were doing offensively.”
The challenge for the coaching staff now becomes avoiding what the Gators have dealt with in recent years. The defense hasn’t been the issue, but the offense has struggled to put up points. That can make the defense frustrated and create division in the team, but Muschamp is confident that won’t happen.
“We’re not going to get into the pointing fingers stuff,” Muschamp said. “We’re not doing that.”
POWELL INVOLVED LATE: After getting nine touches, including a goal line carry, last week, Brandon Powell wasn’t involved in the offense until the game was out of reach against Missouri. The freshman running back made plays when given an opportunity and had a good game against LSU, but he wasn’t a factor early on Saturday.
“I don’t think that would’ve been the answer,” Muschamp said. “We had a lot more issues other than who was playing at the running back position.”