Saturday, June 23, 2018
Colleges

Muschamp vows to make Gators better

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Forget the talk about winning the SEC East. Forget about the stats proclaiming how good the defense is.

The Gators have two weeks until their next game, Nov. 2 against Georgia at Jacksonville, and will spend it trying to figure out what's wrong — before losing the season altogether.

Several defensive players were seen in heated discussions on the sideline during Saturday's 36-17 loss to Missouri. But coach Will Muschamp vowed he and his staff will make corrections and the Gators will get better.

"I'm a competitor. I'm going to fight my a-- off," Muschamp said. "That's what you do. When you get your back against the wall, you fight your a-- off, and that's what we're going to do."

Players admitted the locker room was sullen but insisted they will not let the loss derail the season.

"We have to just keep fighting," sophomore DT Dante Fowler said. "We can't put our heads down and give up. Anything is possible. We're not going to let this mess up our whole season.

Added Muschamp: "We have to circle the wagons. The arrows are going to be flying."

INJURY report: Starting LB Ronald Powell (ankle) did not play after missing practice all week. Starting DT Damien Jacobs missed the game, still suffering from the effects of a late hit during last week's LSU game that he took without his helmet on. LB Jeremi Powell (knee) also missed the game.

Senior S Jaylen Watkins met with reporters with his right hand heavily wrapped in ice.

"I'll know more about it when I get home," Watkins said. "It was a helmet-to-helmet (tackle), and it kind of smashed … (my hand)."

QB Tyler Murphy played the entire game after missing all but one practice with a shoulder injury. He said he attended practices and went through everything except his throwing progressions but insisted the injury did not affect his play.

PATTON'S BIG RUN: One of the few highlights for the Gators was Solomon Patton's kickoff return for a touchdown to open the second half that cut the deficit to 13-10. He took the ball about 9 yards deep in the end zone, but the NCAA records all returns from the end zone as 100 yards.

"I saw the hole, and I hit it exactly like the coaches wanted me to," Patton said. "I felt like it gave us big-time momentum."

The Gators now have returned a kickoff or punt for a touchdown in nine consecutive seasons.

STREAK EXTENDED: Missouri's interception of Murphy extended its streak with a forced turnover to 37 games. The last time the Tigers did not have one was Oct. 20, 2010, at Nebraska.

STREAK ENDED: Florida's streak of holding opponents to 20 or fewer points ended at 13 games.

Antonya English can be reached at [email protected]

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