Florida’s nightmare season continues with first loss to Vanderbilt since 1988
Heading into this weekend, Florida had very little margin for error in its quest to make its 23rd consecutive bowl game. But errors have been the story of the Gators’ season, and the horror show continued on Saturday against Vanderbilt. The Commodores beat Florida 34-17 in a game they controlled from the outset.
The Gators (4-5) have suffered more than their share of injuries to date, with stars like quarterback Jeff Driskel, defensive tackle Dominique Easley, running back Matt Jones and, most recently, offensive tackle Tyler Moore lost for the year. But at some point, injuries can no longer be used as a blanket excuse, especially when the team continues to make the same mistakes time and again, akin to some sort of bizarre unpublished Franz Kafka story.
With the metamorphosis from a top-10 team in 2012 to DEFCON 1 fully complete, natural questions have emerged about the future of third-year head coach Will Muschamp. Muschamp’s philosophy seems so devoid of innovation and explosiveness that it requires disciplined perfection to work. When the Gators haven’t executed (and have lost crucial components to fluke scooter incidents), they have appeared overmatched and bewildered.
Sure, the injuries are brutal. They severely hampered Florida’s hopes of reaching a second straight BCS bowl. But injuries don’t call option plays on the goal line, punt inside opposing territory, get called for targeting or throw interceptions in the red zone.
The Gators turned the ball over four times and lost by 17 points on Saturday despite outgaining the ‘Dores 344 yards to 183. Florida also committed 10 penalties for 84 yards.
With the loss to Vanderbilt — the Gators’ first defeat to the Commodores since 1988, and Vandy’s first win in Gainesville since 1945 — Florida now needs to win two of its final three games against South Carolina (Nov. 16), Georgia Southern (Nov. 23) and Florida State (Nov. 30) to even get to 6-6, which seems awfully far-fetched at this point.
Without a bowl berth, the backlash against Muschamp will likely continue to grow, a notion that’s a bit stunning considering just how raucous and vitriolic things are getting already.
F-Y-I.. the last time Vandy beat Florida Ronald Reagan was President, Will Muschamp was in High School and none of these players were born.—
Larry Vettel (@LarryVettel) November 09, 2013
WIll Muschamp might be able to pursue his lifelong dream of yelling at random Home Depot shoppers on Saturdays.—
Adam Kramer (@KegsnEggs) November 09, 2013
FAU has a better bowl chance than the Gators.—
Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) November 09, 2013
If it gets bad enough I'm just gonna start tweeting out the first chapter of Blood Meridian.—
Spencer Hall (@edsbs) November 09, 2013
I get being mad at Brent Pease, and wanting him fired. I really do. But which OC makes this offense good?—
Alligator Army (@AlligatorArmy) November 09, 2013
I'm trying to think of things I have less faith in than Florida football but so far I'm only coming up with trepanning.—
sir broosk (@celebrityhottub) November 09, 2013
My semi-semi-defense of Muschamp doesn't really apply to losing to Vandy, I guess. Vandy's roster is depleted too. Also Vandy is Vandy—
Jason Kirk (@JasonKirkSBN) November 09, 2013
Injuries or not, the guys out there for Florida were almost all more highly recruited than the guys out there for Vandy.—
Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) November 09, 2013
Florida is at its lowest point in 35 years. Looking up at Zook right now.—
Matt Hinton (@MattRHinton) November 09, 2013
Stop comparing him to Zook. Zook never lost to Vanderbilt.—
Spencer Hall (@edsbs) November 09, 2013
While it’s never entirely apples to apples when comparing two coaches’ tenures, a look at the records of Ron Zook and Muschamp proves fascinating. In three years with the Gators, Zook was 23-14 (16-8 in SEC play). Muschamp is currently 22-13 (13-10).
The situation might be different if the Gators showed any signs of life down the stretch, but outside of a quarter-plus rally against Georgia last week, they’ve basically been the subjects of a modern-day Howl, crying “Moloch!” and wondering:
What sphinx of cement and aluminum bashed open their skulls and ate up their brains and imagination?Moloch! Solitude! Filth! Ugliness! Ashcans and unobtainable dollars! Children screaming under the stairways! Boys sobbing in armies! Old men weeping in the parks!Moloch! Moloch! Nightmare of Moloch! Moloch the loveless! Mental Moloch! Moloch the heavy judger of men!
We saw how Zook’s tenure at Florida ended in 2004. Unless something changes quickly, Muschamp might have more time to take up a hobby such as water skiing or beat poetry in the near future.