Despite a record barely hovering above .500, Florida coach Will Muschamp has been pleased with how his team has performed in games and in practices.
Most harp on the wins and losses, but Muschamp said Wednesday that he looks at the bigger picture and to him, Florida is moving in the right direction. It might look like it’s moving at a snail’s pace, but Muschamp says it's going.
“We’ve improved our football team regardless of the results after the game,“ Muschamp said. “That’s what everybody wants to focus on that -- I do and I know that’s important -- but it’s also seeing the big picture and seeing where your football team is headed.
“When you have that taken from you or you lose that it’s a little bit frustrating, but we’ve had great work ethic all year. We’re developing battle scars, we’ve been through some tough times, but our approach and our preparation each week has been outstanding in my opinion.”
Expectations for the Gators should have been tempered from the start, considering 2011 is a transition year for Florida with a new coaching staff, but it just doesn’t work that way, especially in the SEC.
It’s hard to know where the Gators would really fit into the East race this weekend if senior quarterback John Brantley had been healthy all season. His ankle injury in the second quarter against Alabama sent Florida on a downward spiral offensively.
The Gators recovered slightly against Georgia when a hobbled Brantley returned, heavily taped ankle and all. Florida ultimately came up short, but Muschamp said having Brantley on the field makes Florida’s offense much more manageable considering his experience and his ability to make the reads and adjustments that the freshmen quarterbacks haven’t.
“I’m not offering up excuses, I’m just saying the facts,“ Muschamp said. “To get John back last week was very similar to what you saw earlier in the year -- a great mixture of run and pass with play-action. We’re a different team when we’re able to run the ball and play-action off of that. We can’t get predictable and one-dimensional in what we do.”
Muschamp said that running back Chris Rainey (ankle) should be ready to play at South Carolina this weekend. Rainey sprained his ankle against Georgia and missed the Vanderbilt game last week.
Muschamp said Brantley should be fine after injuring his shoulder against the Commodores.
The only player whose playing status Muschamp was unsure about was linebacker Lerentee McCray, who was injured in the Georgia game and didn't dress for the Vanderbilt game.