- Jeff Barlis, College Football
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Here’s what we learned about the Gators after their 19-14 loss to South Carolina on Saturday night:
1. They have a pulse: Will Muschamp and his coaching staff deserve a lot of credit for circling the wagons. The mid-week votes of confidence from AD Jeremy Foley and school president Bernie Machen certainly helped calm down things. Florida players looked lost and disinterested a week ago in falling at home to Vanderbilt for the first time in 68 years. So credit should be given to Muschamp for rallying his troops. Moral victories don't count in the standings, but with the vitriol surrounding the program a week ago, it was important for Florida to give its fans something to be proud of.
2. The running game made a comeback: The 200 yards rushing was Florida's best performance by its running game since it racked up 246 yards at Kentucky on Sept. 28. When Florida opened the game with 169 yards and a 14-6 lead in the first half, it appeared the Gators might actually score an upset on the road with a one-dimensional offense. While that did not come to pass, UF's ground game did its job and gave the team a couple of chances to score points late in the third quarter and in the fourth.
3. Florida still has a lot of problems: Clearly the Gators have to work on coaching up their quarterbacks. Backup Skyler Mornhinweg made his first career start, took his first collegiate snaps and performed admirably with a game plan that was designed not to expose his weaknesses. But starter Tyler Murphy missed the entire week of practice and has been struggling with a shoulder injury since Oct. 12. There are plenty of problems on the roster that cannot be fixed -- like season-ending injuries or an abysmal kicking game -- but UF must get Mornhinweg up to speed as it tries to get Murphy healthy. Another area of concern is the defense's lack of clutch plays. The turnovers have largely disappeared, and for a defense ranked in the nation's top five, the Gators have given up too many back-breaking second-half plays to win games. Florida had held USC to 93 yards rushing on 27 carries (3.4 yards per carry) before Shon Carson's 58-yard run in the fourth quarter set up the game-winning field goal.