The 2013 Florida Gators have played below expectations all season, and today’s 34-17 loss to the Vanderbilt Commodores could be the first nail in the coffin of relatively new head coach Will Muschamp. Florida’s ineptitude on offense has at times been off-set by a solid defensive unit that at least helped them to go 4-4 through the team’s first eight contests, but like any team that depends on its defense at the expense of a productive offense, that was soon to end sooner than later.
Florida quarterback Tyler Murphy threw three interceptions on the afternoon — all of which led to Vanderbilt scores — and looked uncomfortable and lacking in confidence in the pocket. The Gators’ rushing attack which has been solid at times this season was horrid, combining for only 34 yards on 39 carries. In short, the offense was a complete failure, and while Muschamp is a defense-first coach, the responsibility for this continuing to happen falls firmly on his shoulders.
Vanderbilt running back Jordan Seymour led the way for the Commodores, pounding home three red zone touchdowns against a Florida defense that looked disheartened, and to some degree, disinterested, on an afternoon where their offense was doing them no favors. In the SEC, if your offense isn’t at least productive enough to give the defensive unit several sustained breathers during the course of 60 minutes you can rest assured even reaching .500 will be a monumental task.
If today’s Florida performance against Vanderbilt was an anomaly and could be viewed in a bubble, it would be one thing, but the facts are this isn’t the first time we’ve seen the team play well below expectations on both sides of the ball not only in 2013, but in 2012 as well. Those who will defend Muschamp during the course of the upcoming week will blame the team’s inability to play at their highest level to the rash of injuries they have suffered over the course of the past week.
While injuries are always an issue that can make things difficult, the better teams, and the better coached teams find a way to rise above the inconvenience they present and win games anyway. In three seasons — including today’s loss — Will Muschamp is 22-13 at Florida. The 2012 team appears to be the exception to the rule, finishing 11-2, while the 2011 team (7-6) and this year’s 2013 team that has started 4-5 may be the rule.
The willingness of SEC fans to be patient at a program like Florida is minimal, and the willingness of the administrators in charge of a program like Florida is less than minimal. I’m not willing to say that Will Muschamp is fired on Monday, but I am willing to posit that he’s now firmly on the hot seat after a 4-5 start to the 2013 season.
Bowl eligibility with a couple more wins may be enough to stave off a quick exit in Gainesville for the former Texas defensive coordinator, for now, but who knows for sure?
Florida is accustomed to winning, and winning at a 66% clip isn’t cutting the mustard.
Kris Hughes is a Senior Writer, Business Analyst and College Content Coordinator for Rant Sports.