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Freshman running back Kelvin Taylor rushed for a career-high 74 yards at Missouri.

Sunday October 20, 2013Gators Notebook: Muschamp Says Changes to Offense on Way, Taylor Emerges, More Tidbits

Freshman running back Kelvin Taylor rushed for a career-high 74 yards at Missouri.

Scott Carter
By SCOTT CARTER Senior Writer

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- The game was over. The bus to the airport waited nearby, right behind a throng of Florida fans saying goodbye to the Gators as they walked out of Faurot Field following Saturday's 36-17 loss.

Gators coach Will Muschamp was about to head that way. A reporter tossed him a final question at his postgame press conference.

What was his level of frustration?

Muschamp didn't hesitate with a sharp response.

Will Muschamp

"I’m a competitor,'' he said. "I’m going to fight my [butt] off. That’s what you do. You get your back against the wall and you fight your [butt] off. That’s what we’re going to do."

It was classic Muschamp.

In his three seasons as Florida's head coach, Muschamp's tenacious attitude has been a constant. The most tangible evidence of his competitive nature have been his sideline demeanor and the Gators' relentless defense.

A former safety at Georgia and veteran defensive coordinator, Muschamp's expertise as a defensive coach is hard to argue.

Still, after Florida's 151 yards of total offense at Missouri, the offense is what has everyone's attention. The skimpy output was the Gators' fewest yards since they mustered only 114 and six first downs in a 34-7 loss to Alabama in the 1999 SEC Championship game, the worst offensive performance in Steve Spurrier's Fun N' Gun era.

Missouri's defense was part of the problem. The Tigers sacked Gators quarterback Tyler Murphy six times and never backed off.

"They did a good job covering, but we're got to find ways to make plays," Murphy said. "I have to find ways to get guys the ball."

Injuries also played a factor.

Murphy played with a sore shoulder he hurt at LSU. Running back Matt Jones is out for the season with a knee injury. Starting quarterback Jeff Driskel is out with a broken fibula. Offensive lineman Chaz Green, who would have been called on to replace a struggling Tyler Moore at right tackle Saturday, is out for the season after shoulder surgery.

But offensive execution was arguably the biggest culprit.

"We try and spread it out, we try and throw it, we can’t protect the quarterback,'' Muschamp said. "We try to grind it out, [and] we’re not creating enough explosive runs. We need to find some answers and right now we’re not finding any."

The Gators have a bye week before facing Georgia. Between now and then, Muschamp and offensive coordinator Brent Pease will attempt to inject life into an offense that has gained 391 yards the past two games, or 109 less that Missouri gained Saturday.

For the Gators to salvage what started as a promising season, they have to find more yards if more wins are to come.

On his TV show Sunday morning, Muschamp said it's imperative the Gators improve offensively by utilizing the right personnel and putting those players in the best situations to succeed.

"We need to make some changes as we move forward,'' he said. "If you continue to do the same things, you are going to get the same results. We have an awful lot to work on in the open week."




Freshman running back Kelvin Taylor continues to emerge in the offense.

Taylor, Kelvin

After rushing 10 times for 52 yards at LSU, Taylor carried 12 times for a career-high 74 yards at Missouri. Taylor's 20-yard touchdown run in the third quarter -- cutting the Tigers' lead to 23-17 -- was Florida's offensive highlight.

Taylor's first career touchdown capped a six-play, 70-yard drive on which he accounted for 53 of the yards.

"Kelvin's a natural, instinctive runner,'' Muschamp said.

Added Murphy: "He did a good job of hitting the hole and getting to the second level. I told him to keep going, you're going to break one. He's a very elusive guy."



Solomon Patton

The Gators needed a spark to start the second half and got one on Solomon Patton's 100-yard kickoff return.

Patton caught the ball about six yards deep in the end zone, found a seam and was never touched. The score cut Missouri's lead to 13-10.

"He's probably been our best player all season,'' Muschamp said. "Our guys really got a hat on a hat, did a nice job."

Special-teams coach Jeff Choate, who noticed during the week that most of Missouri kicker Andrew Baggett's kickoffs sailed into the end zone, designed the play. The plan was for Patton to get a running start and burst from the end zone when he caught the ball.

"I saw the hole and I just hit it as fast as I could,'' Patton said. "Trey [Burton] and everyone else did a great job of pinning people in."



Johnny Townsend

Freshman punter Johnny Townsend made his Gators debut Saturday. It was one worth remembering.

Townsend replaced junior Kyle Christy and averaged 45.6 yards on eight punts, including a 61-yarder.

"Johnny has punted well for us all year [in practice],'' Muschamp said. "He really has."

A product of Boone High in Orlando, Townsend was an Ohio State commit until opting to sign with the Gators.



Linebacker Ronald Powell (ankle) and defensive tackle Damien Jacobs (head butt at LSU) did not play Saturday; Powell made the trip but was unavailable ... Muschamp said after the game that linebacker Darrin Kitchens did not play due to "chronic shoulder problems" and that special-teams standout Jeremi Powell injured his knee. Powell left the game after trying to block a Missouri punt in the second half and appeared to injure his left knee on a block attempt ... Senior defensive back Jaylen Watkins, who finished with eight tackles Saturday, hurt his right wrist during the game. Watkins told reporters afterward he didn't think it was serious.



"I tell our guys all the time, 'you’re the firemen. You've got to go put it out.' Regardless of the situation in the game, you’ve got to play a certain way. When you don’t do that, you’re not doing your job.'' -- Muschamp on defensive mentality


"He looked like a seasoned veteran out there.'' -- Missouri coach Gary Pinkel on Tigers quarterback Maty Mauk's performance in his first career start.


"They had my back and I have theirs. They really have nothing to apologize for.'' Murphy on offensive line woes


"We're just not a very good football team." -- Muschamp after Saturday's loss


"I didn't see this happening. Very frustrating. Back-to-back losses, especially because we [offensive line] had such a big part in it.'' -- Gators right guard Jon Halapio



The temperature at Faurot Field on Saturday at kickoff -- 11:21 a.m. local time -- was 41 degrees, the coldest the Gators have experienced under Muschamp.

A look at kickoff temperatures less than 60 degrees for Florida since 2005:


44 -- Nov. 6, 2010 at Vanderbilt (won 55-14)

50 -- Nov. 8, 2008 at Vanderbilt (won 42-14)

53 -- Nov. 10, 2007 at South Carolina (won 51-31)

53 -- Nov. 4, 2006 at Vanderbilt (won 25-19)

58 -- Nov. 18, 2006 vs. Western Carolina (won 62-0)

59 -- Jan. 2, 2012 vs. Ohio State (won 24-17, Gator Bowl)

59 -- Nov. 22, 2008 vs. Citadel (won 70-19)

59 -- Nov. 12, 2005 at South Carolina (lost 30-22)



Missouri's 500 yards were the most allowed by a Florida defense since the 2008 Capital One Bowl against Michigan when the Wolverines racked up 524 yards in a 41-35 win ... Florida's streak of holding SEC opponents to less than 20 points ended at 13 games ... The Gators forced a turnover for the 18th consecutive game ... In the last two games, the Gators have not recorded a sack while allowing 10, including six at Missouri ... Patton's 100-yard touchdown was the Gators' sixth kickoff return for a touchdown in the past four seasons ... Gators receiver Quinton Dunbar caught one pass, extending his streak to 23 consecutive games with at least one reception ... Missouri forced three Florida turnovers to extend its FBS-best streak of consecutive games forcing a turnover to 37.


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