Muschamp saw resolve on Saturday

Muschamp was pleased with the intensity

No one left the stadium on Saturday in awe of the performance Florida displayed against Missouri. It wasn't pretty. At times, it was downright ugly. In a way that has become familiar to a Florida team that doesn't put up style point, it was routine. The most steady characteristic about the Gators this season has been the team's resiliency, and it was on display in the second half of a 14-7 win.

"The effort, attitude and resolve of the football team is as good as I've been around," Will Muschamp said Saturday. "It's guys that accept the challenge and opportunity to embrace it and go after it. It's a credit to our kids.

"It's a lot of resolve on the football team and guys that continue to fight to show their effort, heart, togetherness and oneness. That was a real question when I came here. I want to credit our staff in hanging together and understand we win together and lose together."

Even when the Gators were knocking off top-ten opponents like LSU and South Carolina, it wasn't pretty. The offense wasn't putting up big numbers and depended on a stout defense to set them up with good field position.

It shouldn't have been a surprise. Muschamp warned everyone after the first game.

When he stepped to the podium after the Gators wrapped up an unimpressive win over Bowling Green to start the season, Muschamp was clear about his team. That's how they were going to play.

"I made a statement that this is who we are," Muschamp said. "As we move forward, we're going to continue to improve offensively and become more explosive. We're doing what we have to do to win football games."

The offensive improvement hasn't come as quickly as most expected, but the 14 points on Saturday were enough to sneak by Missouri. The Florida defense again did its job.

Style points went out the window a long time ago for this Florida team. But it's something else that Muschamp is the most proud of after the win.

"There's no one that can question the resolve of that locker room," he said. "The adversity and guys that went down in that game, it's man down and man up. It hasn't always been pretty. It's a credit to those players buying in and facing adversity.

"No one is questioning the character in that locker room right now. This football team has as much resolve as (any) football team that I've been around."

INJURY REPORT: Part of the resolve shown by Florida came when players went down with injuries. Offensive tackle Xavier Nixon and BUCK linebacker Lerentee McCray were already questionable coming into the game, but they weren't healthy enough to play on Saturday. Andre Debose suffered a knee injury on Thursday in practice and it was too tender to play against Missouri.

Caleb Sturgis hurt the ankle of his kicking foot in practice during the week. He didn't do kickoffs as usual, and his 47-yard field goal attempt in the first half was blocked. Muschamp thought the kick's trajectory was low and elected to sit him for the rest of the game because it was swelling.

Right guard Jon Halapio, left guard James Wilson, safety Matt Elam (groin) and running back Mack Brown also went down with injuries but Muschamp was uncertain of their status after the game.

PASS RUSH: The Florida coaches were happy with the pass rush in the first half. However, Missouri quarterback James Franklin used it against the Gators. When the defensive ends worked their way up the field, it provided big rushing lanes for Franklin to tuck the ball and sprint into the field to gain big yardage, as he gained 41 yards on the ground in the first half.

"The four-man rush was working when we rushed early," Muschamp said. "It created rush lanes for the quarterback, and he's a fantastic quarterback. He's a guy that can do a lot of things running and throwing, and he certainly kept a couple plays alive on us today."

At halftime, defensive coordinator Dan Quinn told Muschamp that he thought some of the extra rushers were creating those issues and helping Franklin on the ground. Florida went away from blitzing as much in the second half in order to contain him and try to slow down the Tigers with the ball.

Franklin gained 25 yards on the ground in the second half.

The Gators totaled four sacks during the game, and freshmen Dante Fowler and Jonathan Bullard combined for 2.5 of them. Bullard notched 1.5 sacks for a total loss of 13 yards and added three quarterback hurries.

"Jonathan is a young man that's going to be a heck of a football player here," Muschamp said. "He's just getting started, folks. He made a couple really nice plays."

Fowler played because of the injury to McCray, and he continued to make an impact on the pass rush. He recorded his first career sack against South Carolina two weeks ago, and Fowler showed more progress on Saturday.

The duo is showing signs of growth as the season goes on.

"It's mental intensity," Muschamp said. "It's very difficult for a freshman to walk into a place like Florida and contribute to play quality snaps. Both of those guys, because of the older guys, have been accountable to know what to do and how to do it."

HawgsIllustrated.com Recommended Stories


Up Next


Tweets