South Carolina Preview / Eastern Kentucky Preview / Will Muschamp Post

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me 3 times (or more), bullshit.

I hate to see Will Muschamp forced to resign, but ultimately he did himself in, which is the biggest tragedy of all. He finally had things going his way starting with the big win against Georgia, then getting the offense a little more balanced against Vanderbilt, then…….he reverted back to the overly risk-averse coach he is, not allowing the offense to put South Carolina away in the 4th quarter and sealing his fate as Gator head coach. Yes, the special teams implosion, especially the blocked punt, were egregious enough. But his fingerprints were all over the play-calling in the 4th quarter, repeatedly running the ball into a stacked defense when a few safe passes could have helped slam the door on the Gamecocks…..but instead slammed it in his own face.

After a slow start in which both the offense and defense slept through the 1st quarter, both units came alive from the 2nd quarter until the ill-fated last 8 minutes of regulation and then overtime. How brutal to watch this self-fulfilling prophesy come to fruition……in many ways even worse than the LSU debacle. Finally it was too much even for Jeremy Foley, as I’m sure even Muschamp’s biggest supporter and close friend saw it was time for a change.

The Gator defense was terrific the last 50 minutes of regulation, completely stuffing Carolina and controlling the LOS. Tank Morrison played his ass off with 16 tackles, and the young secondary really started to realize it’s potential by controlling the Gamecock passing game. VH3 shut down his opponent (again), and his 4th down hit that stuffed Carolina’s drive early in the 4th quarter was one of the defensive plays of the season. The D-Line harassed Dylan Thompson all afternoon, repeatedly forcing him to throw off-balance and hitting him……a lot. Even when thrown into a bad spot after the blocked FG, they responded by shutting down Carolina on 4 downs. But even they couldn’t cover up the last meltdown by the punt team – letting a man come clean right up the freakin’ middle, where any sort of clean punt ices the game. There was no reason for a spread protection call – just setting up in safe protection was the call to make.

The Gator offense got the running game going in the 2nd quarter, and controlled the pace of the game until the bitter end. However……you could see the play-calling become painfully conservative as Treon Harris racked up 21 carries. Even with good gains on first down in the red zone, there was no threat of a safe pass in the 4th quarter to out the dagger in. That falls directly on Muschamp, as it’s obvious that this was not Kurt Roper’s offense after Florida took the lead (or, frankly, pretty much after the Alabama game)..

It will be interesting to see how the team responds and if they can focus on these last 2 games and play well. I’m sure playing Florida State will get their interest, but it could be a sloppy affair this Saturday against the Colonels of Eastern Kentucky. EKU plays a wide-open offensive style and can score a lot of points, but likely not against one of the better defense in the country – as long as the guys can focus for at least a few hours and get through this game.

I’m just hoping that the team doesn’t come out flat (a very possible scenario), builds an early lead, and gets this one done with no significant injuries, like losing Jarrad Davis and Neiron Ball for the rest of the season with meniscus tears against Carolina.

Wow – there are few schools that can create coaching drama like Florida does. There will be plenty of time after the regular season ends to go into further details and analysis, but the only real item to focus on is somehow keeping what could have been a great recruiting class as intact as possible. Yeesh.

Prediction: Florida 37 Eastern Kentucky 17