The Florida Gators hit absolute rock bottom this past Saturday as they lost their Homecoming game to the Vanderbilt Commodores by a score of 34-17. Vandy's win in the Swamp snapped a 22 game losing streak to the Gators and this was the first time since 1945 that they had beat the Gators in Gainesville.
Let that sink in. The last time the Gators lost to Vanderbilt at home, World War II was going on and gas was less than one dollar. But the ways things have been going this season, I am not surprised by this loss. Vandy had beaten Georgia on the road earlier this year, so I knew this game was going to be close.
Florida once again had another dismal offensive performance. When quarterback Tyler Murphy was not running for his life because of Vandy's constant pressure, he was completing short passes underneath for a maximum of eight yards. He threw for a career high 305 yards, but he had only one touchdown and three interceptions. I'll get to the three interceptions later. It is also worth noting that Murphy's only touchdown pass was defended perfectly by Vandy but the ball happened to ricochet off the defender and into the hands of freshman wide receiver Ahmad Fullwood.
In the running game, freshman Kelvin Taylor had 48 rushing yards on 14 carries and one touchdown. Quinton Dunbar and Trey Burton led the way in receiving with six catches a piece. Dunbar was the recipient of Murphy's longest pass of 35 yards.
The Gators special teams was below average once again as the Gators went 1-2 on field goals and had 24 total yards on punt returns. Florida's defense did what it could considering Vanderbilt started with the ball in UF territory three times after what could have been three pick sixes from Tyler Murphy. The defense only allowed 183 yards, but it is virtually impossible to ask your team to get a stop when they are constantly backed up to their own end zone. The constant penalties were not helping the Gators either as they committed 11 penalties totaling 84 yards. This lack of discipline is a straight reflection of coaching.
To me, this is the straw that broke the camel's back. Losing to Vanderbilt at home on Homecoming was not what head coach Will Muschamp needed with an already agitated Florida fan base against him after losing to Georgia for the third straight year. He can say all he wants that it is injuries or a lack of leadership, but at the end of the day, anyone playing football for the Florida Gators likely has more talent than anybody playing for Vandy.
Talent has nothing to do with calling an option that loses five yards on first and goal from the one yard line. Talent has nothing to do with going deep once the entire game and then bailing on it because you got intercepted. Talent has nothing to do with how pitiful special teams has been this year. The last time the Gators had a losing season was 1979. They went 0-10-1 that year. I cannot even imagine what that year must have been like for Gator fans.
Now riding at 4-5 and on a four game losing streak, the Gators are in jeopardy of missing out on a bowl game. To go bowling in December, the Gators will need to pull off a miracle. They either have to beat #11 South Carolina on the road or beat #2 Florida State in the Swamp. After the way the Gators looked against Vandy, I cannot see them pulling off either of these wins or even keeping the games close for that manner.
If a loss to Vandy is not enough for athletic director Jeremy Foley to pull the trigger on Will Muschamp, would two blow out losses to Carolina and FSU change his mind? With injuries aside, would the Gators even be as competitive with Jeff Driskel at quarterback instead of Tyler Murphy? Was last year just a fluke year? These are a ton of questions that I do not have the answers to. All I know is this: by the time I graduate from the University of Florida, Will Muschamp will no longer be the head coach of the football team.
*Stats accredited to Gatorzone.com