GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Florida coach Will Muschamp is getting at least another game to turn things around.
Athletic director Jeremy Foley said Monday that he will continue to evaluate the season — and likely Muschamp’s future — “as it plays out.”
That means Muschamp will be on the sideline when the Gators (3-3, 2-3 Southeastern Conference) play ninth-ranked Georgia in Jacksonville on Nov. 1.
Foley released a 40-word statement that did little to sway belief that Muschamp’s job is in serious jeopardy following consecutive home losses to teams that previously struggled in SEC play.
“At the beginning of the season we said we would evaluate the season as it plays out,” Foley said. “We will continue to do so. Our sole focus right now is supporting our coaching staff and players as they prepare for Georgia.”
The Gators are coming off back-to-back losses to LSU and Missouri. The latest one, a 42-13 debacle to Mizzou on Saturday night, was one of the most embarrassing losses in Muschamp’s three-plus years in Gainesville.
Florida committed six turnovers, including two that were returned for touchdowns, and allowed two special teams scores. Chants of “Fire Muschamp” started in the third quarter and could be heard throughout an emptying Florida Field the rest of the night.
The defeat was Florida’s second straight on homecoming, the first time that’s happened in Gainesville since 1947.
It dropped Muschamp’s record to 25-19, including 15-14 in conference play.
And it could be worse. The Gators could be 0-5 in league play considering they eked out a win against Kentucky in triple overtime and edged Tennessee 10-9 two weeks ago.
Missouri’s victory was never in doubt.
The Tigers returned the opening kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown and cruised from there. They also returned a punt for a touchdown, returned a fumble for a score and returned an interception for a touchdown and a 42-0 lead.
Florida allowed just seven first downs and 119 total yards, but lost for the second time in Muschamp’s tenure when giving up less than 120 yards. No other Football Bowl Subdivision team has done that even once in the last decade.
Foley voiced strong support for Muschamp late last year, backing him during the team’s seven-game losing streak that led to the program’s first losing record since 1979.
Muschamp responded by firing two offensive coaches, a move that got him another year to change the team’s direction.
Muschamp opened this season by telling anyone and everyone that this was the most talented offensive team he’s had in four years. He changed his tune somewhat Saturday, saying the offensive line isn’t good enough to protect for quarterback Jeff Driskel.
“We’ve got to identify some things that we can be consistent with offensively,” Muschamp said on his weekly television show Sunday. “In our first six games, we have not done anything offensively. We did against Kentucky a little bit, got some ball movement. We did against LSU at times. But against Tennessee, against Alabama and (Saturday), we couldn’t get anything going.”
Driskel has 12 turnovers in his last four games and has clearly lost confidence.
The Gators used a two-quarterback system with Driskel and freshman Treon Harris, who fumbled and threw an interception. The Gators have a bye this week, and it’s unclear what they will do before facing Georgia.
The Bulldogs have won three in a row in the series.
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