- Edward Aschoff, ESPN Staff Writer
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Will Muschamp has mixed feelings about his team being off this week.
On one hand, the bye week creates a chance for his Gators to rest and recharge after a rough 21-16 loss to Miami. On the other, he'd like to see his players get right back on the field and immediately wipe away the sting of their subpar performance from last weekend.
"As a competitor, you want to get on the field the next day," Muschamp sad. "You don't want to stew over this for two weeks."
But with no game Saturday, the Gators won’t soon get their chance to regroup on the field. It isn't ideal for Muschamp and Co., but moving on from the loss is priority No. 1 for the Gators.
Muschamp said he tried to get his players in the right mindset almost immediately after the Gators returned to Gainesville after the Miami game.
"I told the team on Sunday, I said, 'I didn't question your effort or your want to,'" Muschamp said. "When you start having those questions, then you have a problem. We had put ourselves in positions to win the game, but we didn't get it done.
"Close counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. They don't count in football."
The Gators found that out the hard way.
Florida out-played Miami on both sides of the ball for most of Saturday's loss, but egregious mistakes, like turning the ball over five times and going 2-for-6 in the red zone (with two Jeff Driskel interceptions and a Trey Burton fumble), cost the Gators.
Miami's defense, especially its defensive line, deserve some credit. The Canes were very disruptive and created a lot of issues for Florida's offense, but the Gators dominated the yards column (413-212), and averaged 6.1 yards per play inside the first 80 yards of the field. Inside the red zone, they averaged just 1.2 yards per play. Add the failed fourth-and-1 attempt and the turnovers, and you have a recipe for disaster in a game that was very winnable for Florida.
"We had some good things, but we just didn't capitalize on some situations that we should have," Muschamp said.
Linebacker Neiron Ball said a week of physical practices have helped shake the sting from last weekend. The loss hasn't completely disappeared, but Ball said players understand that this team's goal of reaching the SEC championship is still in sight.
"Just move on and worry about Florida," Ball said. "We can't worry about any other teams. We have to get back on track, obviously, but we'll be alright.
"We still have confidence. We haven't even played an SEC game yet, so we have so much more to look forward to."
And Ball's right.
The offense is taking a lot of heat, but the Gators have moved the ball considerably better through two games than they did for most of last season and the defense ranks first in the SEC and fifth nationally in yards allowed per game (208.5). Right now, no team in the SEC’s Eastern Division is close to being perfect. There are too many flaws to crown anyone, even division-leading Georgia.
"We just need to worry about us," Muschamp said. "We just need to take care of Florida right now, and that's true for the rest of the season. We need more attention to detail as far as ball security is concerned, getting alignment, getting your eyes in the right spots, executing your assignments -- all the things good teams do."
So far, Ball said he's seen more upbeat practices and an attitude shift since Saturday's loss.
"I feel a whole different vibe," he said. "Our coaches are trying to emphasize urgency. I feel a big sense of urgency out of the whole team."
With the SEC opener against Tennessee fast approaching, we’ll see if the Gators were stewing this week or if that urgency carries over to next week.
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