New Orleans- A year ago, the Gators were playing in the 2012 TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl with a 6-6 record. After winning that game, the team began its journey to becoming the ball club it is today. A physical team who can run the ball plus a defense which can shut down the best of the Southeastern Conference.
The drastic improvements are evident. Whether it’s the improved turnover margin — going from 113th to 5th nationally by forcing 29 turnovers this season, or record alone which stands at 11-1. With a win in the Sugar Bowl, the Gators can become just the sixth team in Florida history to have a 12 win season.
Head Coach Will Muschamp says, “Our guys understand what’s at stake. They understand this is a big game for our university and for our football team.”
Despite the progress made this season, the Gators are not satisfied. For Florida, the Sugar Bowl is not as sweet as playing for a National title. Regardless, the team is focused on the Sugar Bowl because it provides ample practice time for the Gators to make improvements for next season. One of those improvements — the passing game. The Gators run the ball well but want to add a more vertical passing game. Having a strong passing game is vital against SEC defenses which feature monster front sevens. Against teams like that a running game can be shut down. The Gators have made some changes to help their passing game. With the addition of Joker Phillips to the coaching staff as a receivers coach the Gators hope to supply quarterback Jeff Driskel with more targets next season.
Muschamp says, “I really felt like we needed to add experience at the position for a receiving corps that we’re still trying to develop…I told our receivers you’ve got a month audition for your position coach, let’s do a good job. I think those guys have responded the correct way.”
Muschamp says, “I think the game is slowing down for him.(Driskel) I think he’ll continue to make good decisions as far as taking the football to the right spot, getting rid of the football in some situations.”
Coaches are critical to a team’s identity and under Florida Head Coach Will Muschamp, the Gators have made a name for themselves as a hard, fast, physical ball club. The team is focused on staying just that, hard, fast, and physical when Fall camp starts in August 2013.
Muschamp says, “You’ve got to have great discipline. You’ve got to have great morale. So if you have a team that’s a really happy team and it understands that line of discipline, then you can really have some special things. And I think this football team has been a great example of that.”
Muschamp won’t talk too much about the 2013 Gators, but he does say that he is pleased with the 2013 roster and feels good about the team.
Of course, just like the old cliche, “the Gators will take each game one game at a time,” and for now, the game Florida is focusing on is the 2013 Allstate Sugar Bowl. Of course, as always, you can catch all the action right here on ESPN Radio 850/900 with coverage starting Wednesday, January 2, at 5:30 PM with The First and Ten Pregame Show.