- Jeff Barlis, College Football
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Here's what we learned about the Gators after their 37-7 loss to FSU on Saturday:
Muschamp is still safe: That was the message (again) when athletic director Jeremy Foley gathered members of the media before the game to reiterate his vote of confidence for coach Will Muschamp. Foley originally gave the vote of confidence after Florida lost to Vanderbilt at home for the first time since 1945. He confirmed his stance had not changed after UF fell to Georgia Southern in the program's first loss to an FCS opponent. So in what has become almost a weekly occurrence, Foley continued to express his support on Saturday. Perhaps with FSU expected to manhandle his Gators, Foley felt it necessary to do so before the game so as to avoid the same question after it.
Florida fans still care: The Swamp looked eerily empty just minutes before kickoff, but it filled up quickly. On an overcast day so soon after Thanksgiving, and with one of the worst teams in school history on display, Gators fans showed up and spoke up as if none of that were true. Yes, there was more garnet and gold in the stands than usual. And yes, the game was only technically a sell-out, with a few hundred seats empty. But the hat tip here is for the fans' passion. They were so loud for so long, one could have sworn it was a game of two evenly matched teams.
The philosophy must change: After the game, Muschamp took responsibility for and promised to fix Florida's problems for the umpteenth time in the last few weeks. He renewed his promise to evaluate his staff and himself. But this time he took the latter vow a step further, saying that he will do whatever it takes to coach an offense that scores more points. This is important, because many observers and Florida fans didn't (or still don't) believe Muschamp is flexible in his overall philosophy of winning with defense and a dominant running game that intentionally shortens games by chewing up the clock. Clearly Muschamp sees the same mess his critics have been harping on -- that his philosophy leaves too little margin for error when his team is unable to execute properly. So stay tuned for 2014 to see whether Florida wins with a more daring offense or if it simply executes Muschamp's ball-control philosophy more successfully.