Gators desperate to end skid at 2 games
Mullen: Muschamp, Gamecocks present ‘a huge challenge’
GAINESVILLE — The Florida Gators were in their seats five minutes early for Monday’s team meeting.
But a positive sign for coach Dan Mullen after his team’s worst showing on his watch will mean nothing unless the No. 15 Gators show up at noon Saturday against South Carolina.
Mullen’s team suddenly is in disarray and running out of things to play for this season just two weeks after the SEC East title was in Florida’s sights.
Quarterback confusion, rumblings that some key underclassmen are eyeing the NFL and one-sided losses to Georgia and Missouri leave the Gators (6-3, 4-3) scrambling as former UF coach Will Muschamp and the surging Gamecocks (5-3, 4-3) come to town.
“Going to be a huge challenge for our guys,” Mullen said. “We obviously have a lot of our things we have to improve on.”
Mullen’s squad looks to avoid a three-game skid and third loss this season in the Swamp, where Mullen lost just twice in 27 games during his four-year stint as the Gators’ offensive coordinator (2005-08).
Muschamp was fired in 2014 largely because of his struggles on Florida’s famous home field, losing six of his final eight home games as Gators coach.
A win by Muschamp Saturday in his second visit with South Carolina would be a bad look for Mullen as he tries to rebuild the UF program and re-energize the fan base.
With so much on his mind, though, the 46-year-old has given little thought to a Mullen-Muschamp showdown.
“I guess that’s big, right?” Mullen said. “I haven’t thought about it in terms of that that much, to be honest with you. I’ve thought more of it in terms of I want to win the game because I want to win the game.”
Mullen’s Gators need a win or risk a late-season swoon that would undermine a promising 6-1 start.