Originally posted on Fox Sports South  |  By STEVE EUBANKS  |  Last updated 11/5/13
The feelings are natural and understandable. Any time a team that was projected to contend for a divisional title loses three in a row and hovers on the verge of missing a bowl game for the first time in almost a quarter century, frustration, disappointment and anger are going to spill out. But venting those feelings, while cathartic, never really accomplish much. So, with a homecoming game against Vanderbilt and the prospect of losing four consecutive games in two out of three years for the first time since 1986-1988 looming large, here are five things Florida coach Will Muschamp must do to stop the bleeding and salvage a Gators season that is in the midst of an implosion. 5. Get off the downer train When Florida lost 36-17 to Missouri, Muschamp sounded like one of those rabid Florida fans who lives and dies with every play. "We are just not a very good football team," he said in his postgame press conference. "Offensively, we're anemic." As honest as that assessment might have been, the hang-dog way Muschamp delivered it shoulders slumped, head down, his face a mask of defeatism and resignation filtered to the rest of his team. Now, instead of his players expecting to win, even when they trail, the Gators look like a "not very good football team" that expects to lose, even when they're leading. Every organization takes on the tone and personality of its leader. If Muschamp exudes positive authority, so will his team. If he continues to look like a kid who dropped his ice cream cone, the Gators will play with that same negative energy. 4. Do whatever it takes to beat Vanderbilt Not only will a four-game losing streak turn up the volume on calls to fire Muschamp, it will set Florida fans up for even more heartbreak. The remaining four games are: Vandy, South Carolina, Georgia Southern and Florida State. The Gators will be underdogs against the Gamecocks, a galling turn of events given that the Head Ball Coach has his name enshrined on the Ring of Fame inside The Swamp. But even worse is how badly Muschamp & Co. will be expected to lose to Jameis Winston and the Seminoles, one of the closest and most bitter in-state rivalries in the country. So, the Commodores and the Eagles of Georgia Southern, an FCS program, are the Gators best chances of a six-win season. Losing to 4-4 Vandy, which has only one SEC win, could send the Gators into an unrecoverable tailspin. 3. Go deep One of the contributing factors to Florida's offensive anemia is the inability or unwillingness to throw deep passes on first and second downs. This has more than a few critics wondering aloud how a program that once boasted one of the fastest receiving corps in college football could be so devoid of deep-threat talent. Granted, good receivers are of little use if you don't have a quarterback to get them the ball and Tyler Murphy has battled a sprained shoulder in recent weeks but Vanderbilt's secondary has plenty of holes that even Florida's seemingly average playmakers should be able to exploit. Five different Texas A&M receivers had receptions of 20 or more yards against Vanderbilt in their last outing and three, including Mike Evans, gained more than 30 yards on at least one catch. Missouri's James Franklin hit three different receivers for over 20 yards against the Commodores, including a 42-yard strike to L'Damian Washington. In fact, the only quarterback in recent weeks not to air out a few long balls against the Commodores was Aaron Murray of Georgia ... and Vandy won that game. Video: Davis: 3 on the rise 2. Go fast The argument for the up-tempo offense has been that if you don't pick up a few first downs, your defense will be back on the field before they have a chance to catch their breath. But when you look at the SEC teams that have turned things around Auburn and Ole Miss jump immediately to mind they have done so by speeding up the pace. As bad as the Gators have been offensively this year, revving up the tempo can't hurt and might help. 1. Hit the high schools Florida remains a gold mine of five-star high school talent and Muschamp should be staking his claims now. Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher has had three consecutive top-10 signing classes during his tenure and FSU is slated to have another top-rated class in 2014. In an age of social media when fans know as much about the high school prospects as many of the coaches, it is imperative for Muschamp to make positive strides with in-state recruits. That means working the phones and visiting the families himself. Every second he is not on the practice field or in the film room should be spent recruiting. It could even help him this year. Some good recruiting news a top-prospect committal or two would do wonders for the psyche of a Gators program in desperate need of some positive reinforcement. Sometimes that's all it takes.
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