Florida coach Will Muschamp is convinced overconfidence won’t be an issue. The Gators have been through enough difficult times over the last two seasons to last for a while. They’ve still lost 10 of their last 14 games with many heartbreaking outcomes still fresh on the minds of the players.
Even with the dominating performance and 418 rushing yards against the Bulldogs, the Florida coach believes his team will continue to put in the work necessary to make it through the remainder of the schedule.
"We don't have anything to be overconfident about,” Muschamp said. “I think that one of the things you talk to your players about is how you respond after a loss and how do you respond after a win. We need to form some consistency in what we're doing. The work ethic of this football team, they'll respond the right way."
There’s still no denying the importance of Saturday’s win to this Florida team. The Gators suffered a frustrating loss to LSU on a field goal as time expired and followed that with an embarrassing 42-13 loss on homecoming to Missouri. Muschamp’s future looked to be in question with speculation that a loss against the Bulldogs would have ended his time as Florida’s coach.
Then his team delivered a dominating performance, relieving some of the heat and creating momentum as Florida heads into a stretch of the schedule with three winnable games in the next three weeks.
"I don't think there's any question it gives you a lot of confidence and belief in what you're doing,” Muschamp said. “You put in a lot of time. Football's a hard game. You only play once a week, and you come over here for four hours a day and watch film and practice and lift and do all the things that you do, you need to get some positive results from it. The only way you do that is winning.
“To be able to get a quality win against a good football team as much work and as much things as we ask these guys to do, there's no question that helps."
A loss on Saturday would’ve eliminated Florida from the SEC East race, but the win creates a scenario where the Gators could still make it to Atlanta. Florida needs a three-way tie with Georgia and Missouri, sending the Gators to the SEC Championship for the first time in 2009.
To make that happen, the Gators have to allow Treon Harris to throw the ball more and develop. There was no need for him to do that against the Bulldogs because of the team’s success on the ground, but that won’t be the case in future weeks. After the game, Muschamp and Florida players said Harris was one of the happiest in the locker room since the team was able to win the rivalry game and beat Georgia for the first time since 2010.
“He’s a team guy,” Muschamp said of Harris. “He wants to win. I feel very comfortable where we are and moving forward throwing the football. It just never presented itself on Saturday. Why change what we’re doing here? Things were really working for us.”
The freshman brought a calming presence to the offense. He was able to get the Gators in good looks before the snap, helping the game even though he threw only six times in the game.
“He’s a very calm, composed young man,” Muschamp said. “He doesn’t get flustered by a lot. I saw that throughout the preparation. I saw it on Friday in our walk through. Saturday morning in the hotel talking to him, if he was nervous he does a good job of faking it that’s he’s not.”
INJURY REPORT: Offensive guard Trenton Brown suffered a bone bruise on his knee and will miss the game at Vanderbilt. Safety Keanu Neal had a high ankle sprain against Georgia and will also miss the game against the Commodores.
Freshman defensive lineman Gerald Willis had a high ankle sprain and didn’t travel for the Georgia game. He is “questionable at best” for the Vanderbilt game.
Running back Matt Jones handled 25 carries against Georgia after dealing with swelling on his knee weeks ago. Muschamp said they will continue to monitor his health, but there was no swelling after playing the Bulldogs.