Before Florida's second season under coach Will Muschamp began, before the team went 11-1 and punched its ticket to New Orleans, the powers that be at the University of Florida gave the second-year coach a one-year extension following a 7-6 first season.
Apparently, Florida's Athletic Director Jeremy Foley was pleased with the program's direction, as he told Pat Dooley of the Gainesville Sun:
It's easy to do it when you're 11-1, but we did it back in August because we liked the direction the program was heading. We wanted to convey to Will how much confidence we had in what he was doing."
A BCS bowl loss and a 4-3 start to 2013 later, and the direction of the program has hit a severe snag. And Florida's recent loss to Missouri was enough to prompt Foley to defend his coach, according to Bryan Holt of InsidetheGators.com:
"(Muschamp's not going anywhere, and I'm not going anywhere," Foley reportedly told Dooley of the Sun.
Unsurprisingly, Gainesville is talking, and deservedly so: Florida is unranked for the first time since 2011.
As pointed out by Holt, Saturday was Muschamp's 11th loss as Florida's coach. For the sake of comparison, former coach Ron Zook lost 14 games in three years and was fired shortly thereafter in 2004.
However, the odds of Muschamp being ousted are slim-to-none. But there is a considerable amount of concern brewing outside the program.
In Florida's consecutive losses, its defense has surrendered 827 yards of total offense, including 380 yards on the ground. In the Gators' four wins, however, the defense allowed a combined 827 yards.
And the woes don't end there.
The Gators' offense has failed to make significant strides under Muschamp from Year 2 to Year 3. Under second-year coordinator Brent Pease, Florida is last in the SEC in total yards per game (336.9), 12th in passing yards per game (175.4) and 12th in points per game (21.1).
More importantly, Florida is on the verge of finishing one of the nation's 20-worst offenses for the third consecutive season, after finishing No. 105 in 2011 and No. 104 in 2012.
On the road, Florida has yet to score more than 24 points and has only eclipsed the 30-point mark twice.
Surely, the losses of starting quarterback Jeff Driskel and running back Matt Jones have hampered the Gators' offense. But Florida has lacked any kind of offensive ingenuity outside of the overused Wildcat formation and the occasional "full house" and "diamond pistol" looks.
It's becoming increasingly clear that Florida has no long-term solution at quarterback on its 85-man roster, either. Although Murphy has played particularly well since assuming the starting role, Florida has failed to find consistency in the passing game.
And with the loss of Dominique Easley to a season-ending injury and the likely departure of corners Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Roberson to the pros, Florida's defense will surely be entering a transitional period by season's end.
What remains after seven dismal weeks is nothing to be confident about. Florida has lost seven players to season-ending injuries, including five starters, and has dealt with patchwork offensive-line play for much of the season.
The arrow can only point up moving forward.
"We're just not a good football team — certainly not today — and it falls on my shoulders," Muschamp told Jason Lieser of the Palm Beach Post following Florida's loss to Missouri. "We're inept offensively. We have a hard time running it and certainly can't protect very well."
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!