Thursday, June 21, 2018
Colleges

Gators loss leaves Muschamp under fire

GAINESVILLE — The boos came intermittently Saturday afternoon and grew louder with each Vanderbilt touchdown or Florida miscue, which mostly were intertwined.

The announced attendance was 88,004 (544 short of a sellout), but Ben Hill Griffin Stadium was not even close to filled to capacity.

Gators coach Will Muschamp said he shares the fans' frustrations — and vowed once again to right a struggling program.

"I'm a competitor," Muschamp said. "I don't like losing. I certainly don't like the product we are putting on the field. When it's good, it's good. When it's not good, it's not good, and it hasn't been good. And that's on me. We'll make the decisions to move forward that we need to do to help this football team in the latter part of the season as we move forward.

"I'm not asking for anybody to be happy. I'm not asking anybody to give us a pass. This is the real deal. This is the University of Florida. My expectation I'll guarantee is as high, or higher, than anyone sitting in those stands. There's nobody more let down or hurt or competitive edge dented a little bit by this (than me)."

Last week, Muschamp had a verbal altercation with a Florida fan in the stands following the third consecutive loss overall and third consecutive to Georgia.

"That (booing) doesn't bother me," he said. "I made a mistake last week. I made a real mistake over a very passionate, passionate Florida fan telling me his opinion of me. You know what? That's fine. That's fine. They pay their ticket. They can boo all they want. That's good. Now it doesn't help our program. That's fine."

HOPE DWINDLING: The Gators play No. 13 South Carolina on Saturday and close their season against No. 3 Florida State.

In between, Florida hosts Division I-AA Georgia Southern. The Gators need two wins to become bowl-eligible and admitted they are stunned by the turn the season has taken.

"Very shocking," QB Tyler Murphy said. "Everyone in that locker room came to Florida to win, and we're not winning. And that's just unacceptable. As players, we know that's unacceptable. We're just going to keep fighting, keep pushing and try to make the best out of this season."

Despite the four-game losing streak, players staunchly defended Muschamp.

"I'll go to battle with that coach any day; his whole coaching staff," RG Jon Halapio said. "I see the grind in his eyes every day. I see what he does every day; the passion he has for this team. And I'll go to war with him any day. He has our backs, and I have his back win or lose."

KICKING WOES: The kicking problems that have plagued the Gators all season continue. Austin Hardin missed a 44-yard field goal and is 4-of-10 for the season. Brad Phillips is 2-of-2 and Francisco Velez 4-of-5. Florida's 10 field goals (among 17 attempts) are 13th in the 14-team SEC.

STREAK ENDS: Florida's streak of games with at least one forced turnover ended at 19. It has forced just four turnovers over the past four games.

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