Will Muschamp is a changed man
Florida head coach Will Muschamp will have that same scowl on the sidelines this year, he’ll have the same sweat saturated Florida collared shirts, and he’ll probably scare your children when he gives a player the look of death at some point this season.
Muschamp has a lot of pride, but he’s not afraid to swallow it.
Four-win seasons will change a coach, and it’s changed Muschamp. The Gators suffered a biblical amount of injuries last season that helped them limp to one of the worst seasons in program history. Nothing worked, and outside of freshman All-American Vernon Hargreaves and a few other bright spots on defense, much of the season couldn’t be salvaged. Instead of being remembered for a team that physically dominated opponents like 2012, 2013 Florida will be remembered for blocking each other, losing to Georgia Southern and having one of the worst offenses, well, ever.
But he’s a different coach this year. He’s saying different things. He’s changing essentially everything he’s believed in offensively since his introductory press conference when he said the Gators are going to be a pro-style, power running team that physically wears out opponents with smash-mouth style.
Four years in, and he’s on his third offensive coordinator.
From the coach who used to virtually curse up-tempo offenses, he’s embraced one. Hell, Muschamp said yesterday during Florida’s media day presser that the Gators will operate out of the shotgun with tempo. He’ll tell you it’s because of Jeff Driskel’s comfort level, but he knows he had to change the offense completely and get out of his comfort zone in order turn this thing around. Whether he was forced to or whether he did it on his own accord, it doesn’t matter. By hiring Kurt Roper, Muschamp abandoned everything offensively he believed would win him a championship at Florida.
Roper’s offense should fit Driskel and the personnel much better, and the spread-’em-out style of play is conducive for more points and more first downs.
“As I looked at it, I think evaluation-wise, we needed to be more tempo, we needed to create more snaps, we needed to create more space plays, continue to stay balanced, be diverse in our background moving forward,” Muschamp said in January. “I felt like being in the (shotgun) would help some of our personnel, and that’s where we’re headed.”
Several say Muschamp hates offense and only embraces defense, but he realizes that changing his mindset gives he and his team the best opportunity at success. Coaches with too much pride continue to do the same things over and over, and it ultimately gets them fired.
Instead of running from the hot seat, he’s embraced it. Muschamp came right out and talked about the hot seat chatter at SEC Media Days and yesterday at Florida’s media day.
“It’s something you’ve still got to deal with. It’s there,” Muschamp said. “I addressed our team about preparation, about our attitude, about our embracing adversity, about having a competitive edge every day.
“To stick your head in the sand and pretend it was all (caused by) injuries, that’s not right. You’ll fool yourself if you believe that. We addressed a lot of things in the offseason in moving forward.”
As a coach who plays everything close to the vest, he’s been about as open as Bill Belichick after a bad game. However, he’s opened up practices to the media and to fans who want to see more from their team. Eight Florida practices are open this fall. It’s Muschamp 2.0. Opening up practice is a nice touch for fans, and it gives media members more opportunities to relay information.
Whether Muschamp rolls out 10 wins this year or whether he’s inevitably fired, he will have tried everything he possibly knows in order to get the Gators’ program back to Atlanta.
But he still has to beat Georgia.