As it turned out on Saturday against a top 10 Georgia squad, it only made sense for Florida to run the ball, and run the ball, and run the ball. In the end the tally was 60 rushes for 418 yards and three completions on six attempts passing for 27 yards. That won’t cut it for the rest of the schedule, despite how successful it was in that game.
Florida head coach Will Muschamp said directly after the game that it wasn’t the plan to run the ball 10 times for every pass, he also said that it likely won’t go that way again.
Pointing to a true freshman quarterback at the helm for the first time and in a hostile environment would certainly be a reason to do it, but after the game Muschamp also told Treon Harris that he better be prepared and that all that success in running isn’t going to happen like that again.
“It is the fact that we ran the ball for 418 yards and didn’t need to throw it,” Muschamp said about the success running the ball and sticking with it. “I just told (Treon) after the game ‘when your number is called, be ready to go. We are going to need to throw this thing.’ Treon’s response was ‘all I care about is winning’. That is the kind of team guy you want leading your football team.
The Question was asked in Muschamp’s SEC teleconference session why he would make the comments to Harris.
“I am always looking ahead to what we are going to need to do successful offensively,” he said. “There is no question we will need to throw the football. I have all the confidence in the world that we will be able to do it.”
We all knew going into the Georgia game that the play book would be limited for Harris. It certainly was far more limited than expected on Saturday, but Harris is picking things up so they can expand things. It hasn’t been easy with him being a true freshman and arriving on campus in June.
“He is an accurate thrower,” Muschamp said of his freshman signal caller. “He is a guy that is certainly capable of doing what we need to do in the throwing game. We are going to game plan each week for what we need to do to win the game. If that means throw it 40 times, we will throw it 40 times, we aren’t sitting here trying to mark a number of runs that we had to do.”
For Muschamp, the number one thing is about not giving the ball up. A rash of turnovers led to the three losses on the schedule and is what this team has to avoid moving forward. Whatever it takes to accomplish that is what we will see.
“The number one thing is we need to take care of the ball offensively,” Muschamp said. “Whether we are running or throwing it, if we are turning it over it won’t matter. If you don’t take care of the football you don’t have an identity and that is where it all starts with me.”
It was the single biggest victory in the Muschamp era at Florida. I am not talking in terms of what it means for the stability of the staff, but it was the most dominant performance against a ranked team that Muschamp has led his team to. It was however one for the record books in terms of totally unexpected and therefore a happy team was something that was a welcome site.
“Obviously I enjoyed the win, but you see our fans and the players and the excitement they had… there is nothing like being in a victorious locker room,” Muschamp said. “To be in that locker room and seeing their faces and being a part of that and genuinely enjoying that, it was awesome.”
Now that is over and the task at hand is Vanderbilt. The gators have an outside shot at the SEC Championship game, but Missouri has to lose twice and to the right teams, Georgia still has to lose another. All of that is out of their control and Muschamp says this Gator team just needs to focus on themselves.
“I guess everyone is motivated differently, but now it goes through Nashville and Vanderbilt,” he said of some players clinging to the hope of playing in Atlanta in early December. “We just need to take care of Florida and Vanderbilt. We need to have laser focus on Saturday night and what we need to do to be successful. Really, if we don’t take care of ourselves, nothing else matters.”
Muschamp revealed the latest injuries and matched up exactly with what he said on Monday. Starting right guard Trenton Brown went down with a severe bone bruise Saturday and missed most of the game. Starting safety Keanu Neal has a high ankle sprain and missed a lot of the game. Freshman defensive end Gerald Willis has a high ankle sprain he suffered in practice last week.
“Trenton and Keanu are out,” Muschamp said. “Gerald Willis will be doubtful at best. I do not see him partaking, we will see what he can do today, but based on the staff report this morning I don’t see it.”
The offensive line did fine substituting for Brown up front. Neal is a big one to miss, but Muschamp believes they will play more of a regular defense (three linebackers and no NICKEL) because of the Vanderbilt personnel and that will help with numbers in the secondary.
“We will probably be a little more regular than we have been… we will still have some NICKEL stuff in there,” Muschamp said before listing off the guys that will get reps at safety this week. “Marcus Maye, Jabari Gorman, Duke Dawson, Nick Washington practiced well yesterday. Marcel Harris, we’ve seen all of those guys taking snaps.”