I was very excited to see how Muschamp would turn out when he first arrived at Florida, I really liked his fire and passion for the game. But now in year 3, their are some disturbing trends that have become synonymous with Muschamp football. I have heard some sportswriters refer to it as sloppy, dumb, Muschamp football. When he first arrived he made it clear that he wanted to transform the Gators into a power football team, that controlled both sides of the line, could impose their will in the run game, and play great defense. And now in year 3, we see that is not the case at all. Both the offensive and defensive lines have been getting manhandled against the upper tier competition, and aside from some inspiring running from Kelvin Taylor, Florida cannot impose their will running the ball.
I think everybody was ready to give him a pass in season one where Florida dropped 4 games in a row, and lost to all of our biggest rivals, and aside from some talented players left behind by Urban Meyer the offense was a mess. On too year two, defense is much improved, a lot due to the development of the outstanding 2010 recruiting class that Urban brought in. The offense on the other hand was again dismal, but still had some incredible talent left over from Urbans recruiting class, that with the help of stellar defense and special teams kept us in the game. Now wins over FSU, LSU, and South Carolina last year are nothing to shake a stick at and 11-2 is a heck of a season. But the reality is the Gators were just a few lucky breaks and special teams plays away from dropping games to much less inferior opponents and really got smacked in the Sugar Bowl, and looked inept on offense most of the season.
So now in year 3, Muschamp has had an opportunity to bring in some players to fit his formula, and I think everybody was expecting to see some strides offensively this year. As it turned out it was quite the opposite, and really more of the same. An offense that at most times looks like a complete cluster, and a lot of times seem completely confused as to what they are doing. In 3 years Muschamps staff has utterly failed to develop a good QB, even when you have a 5 star recruit in Jeff Driskel who has all the ability in the world but still looks like he has no idea what hes doing and hasn't progressed at all. They have failed to bring in and develop any recievers, which has been the Gators biggest weakness for almost 4 years now, and the only Gators that are finally making some strides are recievers that Urban Meyer brought in.
Now one thing Muschamp has done a really good job of doing, is putting together one of the most talented secondary units in the country. Because that is his baby, hes a former defensive back, and defense is his specialty, and for the most part I really think Muschamp has done a really good job with the defense, recruiting, and player development. The problem is, defense is only one part of an equation when putting together great teams. Don't get me wrong great defense is always important, but in todays college football its offense that brings the customers. And the Florida Gators have fielded an offense for the last 3 years that is nearly unwatchable, and that's bad for ticket sales, recruiting, and an overall appearance of a program known for speed and excitement on both sides of the ball, one of the things that made everybody in college football fear the Gators.
So when you look at his successes and failures in 3 years as a head coach now, the cons are starting to outweigh the pros. Player development in almost every area except defense has been below average, how do you have a punter that is a finalist for a Ray Guy award one year and makes a 180 turn for the worse the very next season. How can you not have a kicker on the roster that can make a FG over 40 yards? How are you unable to develop playmakers at the WR and QB position in one of the most talent rich and resourceful schools in the nation? And how can you not find ways to get the few talented players we do have i.e. Trey Burton, Solo, and Kelvin Taylor the ball more? Not to mention the complete lack of discipline, sloppy play, and leading the SEC in penalties and procedural calls, I mean that's all coaching. You don't see teams like Bama making those same mistakes over and over.
With all that being said, Im pretty confident that unless the Gators completely implode and have a losing season this year, which is still very much possible, that Muschamp will be back for 2014. And after getting the team to the Sugar Bowl last year, and beating FSU, I think he has earned at least one more year. My biggest concern is Florida being able to convince great offensive recruits to come play at Florida at this point. There has been rumors of some high profile commits already getting weary of Gators ineptitude on offense. But either way I think Muschamp comes back next season, but I cant imagine any scenario that Brent Pease will be back, nor the O line coach. I think we keep on Joker Phillips who has seemed to inspire some better play from the recievers this year and bring in a new OC.
If for some reason Muschamp does get let go at the end of the season, I think Jeremy Foley needs to bring in somebody with previous HC history at a big program or in the NFL, and I think it should be someone who has an offensive background, that can best utilize the speedy recruits and rich resources in the state of Florida. The first name I thought of was Dan Mullen, he was with Florida during their periods of greatest success in program history, as the offensive coordinator for the 06 and 08 NC teams. As the head coach at MSU he has the best winning percentage of any coach in program history over a 5 year period, and that says a lot given how hard it is to recruit at a school like that with little history and minimal resources. Another possible option I haven't heard anybody bring up is Mike Mularkey, he is a former Gator tight end, had a successful career as a player in the NFL, and has done a great job as an O.C. in the NFL, his head coaching record isn't great but he inherited some pretty terrible franchises, like the Jaguars, who only gave him one season.
One way or the other I hope the Gators can turn this thing around, because I really don't like the direction the program seems to be going. I know every team will have its down years, and especially when you are decimated by injuries by some of your best players like the Gators have been this year, but theirs no excuse for fielding inept offensive teams for 3 years straight, and staring at a possibility of not being bowl eligible for the 2nd time in 3 years. Heres to hoping Muschamp and crew can salvage whats left of the season, and if not figure this thing out before the program starts to slip into a decline that it will be harder to recover from. Go Gators!