Will Muschamp Report Card: How Did New Florida Coach Do in His Debut?
The Gators chomped FAU 41-3 at The Swamp on Saturday with some tremendous production from Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps.
But, how did Will Muschamp do in his first game as Florida's head coach?
Charlie Weis' pro-style offense under Jeff Brantley moved down the field with ease picking up first downs on almost every play. Muschamp patrolled the sidelines giving encouragement and walking through reads with his players.
After a successful playing career at safety for Georgia and assistant coaching stints at Auburn, LSU, Texas and with the Miami Dolphins, Muschamp set a goal to become a head coach by age 40. He recently hit his 40-year mark and with it took over as head coach for the Gators when Urban Meyer retired.
Even with the success on both sides of the ball in the first game, Coach Muschamp looked nervous and paced the sideline with sweat on his brow. Hopefully the success of his players in their opener will put him at ease in the next game.
Jeff Demps Is a Work Horse
With 12 carries for 105 yards and two TDs, Jeff Demps was the highlight in the offensive production. He also hauled in three receptions for 21 yards.
Demps set the Swamp on fire when he ran the opening kickoff back for a touchdown. A penalty nullified that score, but not before setting the tone for a dominant one-sided performance.
"That's exactly what we wanted to do. We wanted to come out fast, play hard and physical and try to set tempo of the game. I think we did a great job of that."
"We got the ball into space and with the playmakers," Muschamp said. "We did a good job with that. Charlie Weis does a phenomenal job putting together and coaching our offense. We played pretty clean in the game."
Demps was at full afterburner the entire game and even changed his number to feel more like a running back.
"I just wanted to change it up and feel more like a running back, so that’s why I went to 28," Demps said. "I definitely felt like a running back."
Demps missed parts of last season with a bad foot injury, but looked to be at 100 percent in Florida's opening game.
The duo of Demps and Chris Rainey combined for 272 of 468 total yards.
Chris Rainey Adds 3-Dimensional Attack
Chris Rainey broke a record during the opener; a feat accomplished by only two other players in the country since 1996. He scored a rushing touchdown, a TD reception and punt-block return for six.
"I love special teams, especially the punt block," Rainey said. "We work on that every day, all day."
"That’s a God-given gift," he said. "I can’t explain it. You gotta ask God. We were just doing our job," Rainey said.
Coach Muschamp is extremely impressed with Rainey.
"He’s just a very talented young man," Muschamp said. "He’s a young guy that comes to practice every day and is ready to compete."
Rainey finished the game with 11 carries for 79 yards and six receptions for 67 yards.
"You’re going to see a lot of rushing yards this year, that’s all I can really say," Rainey said. "We want to run the ball."
John Brantley Led a Sensational Offense
John Brantley led a very potent offense in a lopsided home victory. He had 21 completions of 30 attempts for 229 yards, with a TD and two picks.
He split some time with true freshman Jeff Driskel once the game was in hand, but Driskel's inconsistent play kept Brantley at the helm for the majority of the game.
"I wanted to give Jeff an opportunity to get some snaps when the game was in the balance," Muschamp said. "He needed those snaps. He has earned the right to be the backup quarterback at Florida. John is our starter; there is no issue. We needed Jeff to get those reps in my opinion. I just look at big picture—it’s a long season and I just didn’t want to throw him out there in Week 2 and he had not taken any snaps."
Brantley definitely stole the show, leading with composure, confidence and efficient execution.
"John’s been that way," Muschamp said. "I’ve been saying it all along. I’ve been pleased with John since Day 1. I’ve always felt like he’s a guy we can win with and I know that locker room feels the same way I do."
Muschamp spoke about his starting quarterbacks performance so far.
"Just very pleased with how he directed the offense," Muschamp said. "Got us in the right runs, got us in the right protections, took the ball to the right spots. Certainly we’ve got some things to clean up, but for a first ball game, first offense, new scheme, all the newness to everything we’re doing, very pleased with the performance. I just think he feels more comfortable in what we’re doing," Muschamp said.
"It feels good to introduce Coach Muschamp to the Gator Nation," Brantley said. "That was a good feeling. We felt real comfortable. We had great preparation throughout camp. We were just happy to be able to go out and execute."
Will Muschamp gets an "A-" for his debut as head coach. He had consistent play on all sides of the ball, a dominant victory over an FBS team coached by a legend. He taught his players during the game. He communicated with his coaches. He argued with refs and disciplined his players. He was motivational and effective.
There are still two areas the Gators will need to work on before their next game against the Blazers of Alabama-Birmingham. Three turnovers and a number of penalties were the black eye for Muschamp, but those discipline issues should be easy fixes in the film room this week.
Gator fans welcomed Will Muschamp with open arms and so far, he has delivered with help from offensive coordinator Charlie Weis. The Gators look to have an extremely successful season and may soon emerge in competition for the national championship.
Good job, Coach Muschamp, and good luck in your first season.