Gators' group therapy: No finger-pointers

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange


GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- After a disappointing loss at rival Miami, Florida has plenty to work on before its SEC opener Sept. 21 against Tennessee.
The first order of business was to dispel the notion of individual blame. Head coach Will Muschamp buried that idea with his players almost immediately.
"If you point one finger, you've got three fingers pointing right back at you," linebacker Michael Taylor said. "So before you point fingers at somebody else, you've got to point fingers at yourself. We're a team. We don't play as individuals."
With that group therapy concept in mind, the bye week comes at a good time for the Gators. Florida (1-1) needs to get healthy and refocused after committing five turnovers in a 21-16 loss to the Hurricanes that changed, at least temporarily, the trajectory of the 2013 season.
Muschamp noted the blame for the Miami loss didn't just fall on the offense. Muschamp was disappointed that Florida's defense allowed two early touchdowns, which allowed the Hurricanes to jump to a 14-6 lead. The Gators were forced to play catch-up the rest of the way.
"Disappointed with the way we started the game (defensively) from the standpoint you give somebody some belief," Muschamp said on his coach's show. "We did that early in the game. We just can't allow that to happen.
"We started slow in the game for whatever reason. We're researching that as a staff as far as defensively not playing better. We came back and played extremely well as the second half rolled in."
Turnovers are another big problem.
Last season, Florida finished with a turnover margin of plus-15, a big reason why the Gators finished 11-2. Through two games this season, Florida's turnover margin is at minus-4 (six committed, two forced).
"We need to go back in the off week and work on ball security and playing better in those situations," Muschamp said.
Quarterback Jeff Driskel has accounted for four of Florida's six turnovers with two interceptions and two lost fumbles.
"It starts with me being careless with the ball," Driskel said. "(The turnovers) were costly. We're going to have to recover from this and not hang our heads."
Tennessee could provide just the tonic the Gators need to get back on track. The Vols are going on a cross-country trip to play No. 2 Oregon this week.
Florida has won eight straight in the series between SEC East rivals. Tennessee's last win over Florida came in 2004, when the Vols beat the Gators 30-28 on a last-second 50-yard field goal from James Wilhoit.
Muschamp believes his team is capable of bouncing back from the Miami loss.
"We've got a good group in there," Muschamp said. "We've got good character in that locker room. They're hurt right now, they're disappointed. You lose as a team, you win as a team. We gave them way too much momentum and belief early in the game and that's what they needed."
Notes: QB Jeff Driskel is dealing with a knee sprain he suffered against Miami. Driskel was seen on campus on crutches on Monday, but in a statement, Florida said Driskel is expected to recover in time for UF's Sept. 21 matchup vs. Tennessee. ... RT Tyler Moore left the Miami game with an apparent ankle injury in the fourth quarter. Moore was seen leaving the game on crutches with an ice pack around his left ankle. ... LT D.J. Humphries re-aggravated a knee sprain against Miami and sat out the entire second half. "He was very sore at halftime and didn't feel like he could go," Muschamp said. ... CB Marcus Roberson left the Miami game in the third quarter with a strained knee. Muschamp doesn't expect the injury to be serious. "He'll be fine," Muschamp said. ... WR Latroy Pittman sat out the second of three straight games due to a disciplinary suspension.