Quarterback troubles plague Will Muschamp's time at Florida
When Will Muschamp was hired in 2010, the former head coach in waiting at Texas was considered a great hire by the Florida Gators. A strong defensive mind with multiple ties to various SEC schools, Muschamp was the guy athletic director Jeremy Foley tabbed as the man to bring the program back to the top of the college football world. And Gator Nation believed he would.
Safe to say, things haven’t gone as planned.
Aside from a 2012 regular season where the Gators finished 11-1 and were eventually blown out in the Sugar Bowl, the Gators have struggled mightily to remain relevant in the college football world.
Muschamp’s overall record is 25-18 and without the 2012 season — which is seeming more and more like an anomaly — it’s a putrid 14-16.
What’s gone so wrong for a coach with such a glowing record before arriving at Florida?
The answer is simple, actually. Quarterback issues.
Since he arrived, Muschamp has started five different quarterbacks and found absolutely no consistency in any of them.
In 2011, Brantley’s injury gave way to Florida having to lean on freshmen Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett and Florida finished 7-6.
2012 brought much more success to Florida as Driskel beat out Brissett for the full-time starting quarterback job and the Gators subsequently made a BCS bowl appearance. But anyone who watched that season will tell you the defense and running game led that team, not the quarterback, as evidenced by the conference’s worst passing offense that season.
A year ago, Florida finished with it’s worst season since 1979. It’s 4-8 record was the obvious lowpoint of Muschamp’s UF career and it was marred by — you guessed it — the quarterback. Driskel’s season-ending injury forced first-time starter Tyler Murphy and eventually true freshman Skyler Mornhinweg into the starting role. But once again, it was the same, disappointing results for Muschamp.
And now this season, Muschamp finds himself 3-2 and on the verge of being knocked out of the SEC East race with another loss. His coaching seat continues to heat up, and conversely, Driskel continues to cool off, throwing eight interceptions and just six touchdowns.
RELATED: Jeff Driskel: From five stars to Florida outcast
Passing offense SEC ranks under Muschamp
- 2011: 185.7 ypg; ranked 5th in SEC
- 2012: 146.3 ypg; ranked 14th in SEC
- 2013: 170.9 ypg; ranked 12th in SEC
- 2014: 208.6 ypg; ranked 9th in SEC
It’s the piece to the puzzle Muschamp has yet to figure out and it may be the main reason he loses his job if he is indeed fired at the end of the season.
Unfortunately for Muschamp, part of it has been bad luck too (see QB injuries in 2013). But eventually, the job has to get done no matter the circumstances, especially at a football program like Florida.
With all of the issues Muschamp has had at quarterback, the Gators head coach is now faced with another quarterback problem. The Gators could be on the verge of switching to a new starting quarterback in true freshman Treon Harris as both he and Driskel are expected to receive playing time against Missouri.
During Muschamp’s time at Florida, the offensive game plan has almost sought to minimize the quarterback’s importance in the offense. Ironically enough, it is the very position that Muschamp’s coaching career at Florida will either live or die by, starting this weekend.
RELATED: 5 reasons why Treon Harris should start
Driskel will likely be the starter, but with Harris on his heels, the true freshman certainly has a significant opportunity to earn the starting job. While his collegiate career is essentially one quarter long, he represents a change.
And that change alone distinguishes him as a possible savior to Florida’s season and even Muschamp’s fate at Florida.
Perhaps this will be the weekend Harris provides that spark to the Gators’ offense and finally turns things around at the quarterback position for his embattled head coach.