Muschamp, Pease feeling the pressure
November, 12, 2013
By Jeff Barlis | ESPN.com
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- These days the laughter doesn't ring out in the locker room quite as much, the smiles don't come as easily, and fun is something almost no one inside the Florida football program is having.
In a season of mounting losses and injuries, the bottom appeared to fall out last Saturday when the Gators were beaten handily on homecoming by Vanderbilt for the first time at home in 68 years.
The vitriol and questions about Florida's future have mostly been directed at the offense. After all, the UF defense is still ranked among the nation's top five.
Phil Sears/USA TODAY SportsWith injuries and production problems mounting for Brent Pease (left), Florida's offense is on the verge of ranking 100th or worse for the fourth consecutive season.
Whatever scrutiny head coach Will Muschamp has avoided is fixed squarely on offensive coordinator Brent Pease who is feeling as much pressure as anyone on the coaching staff.
"It’s human nature to probably think about [job security]," Pease said, "but, I've still got an obligation to this team and the head coach and the players I coach and the administration that I work for."
Muschamp said after Saturday's game and reiterated on Monday that he'll consider changes to his staff after the season, as he has done in previous years.
"It’s a constant evaluation," he said. "I think you’ve gotta take a whole body of work and what we’re trying to do, and that’s what moving forward I’ll do."
During the team's four-game losing streak, Pease hasn't been deterred.
"No, he hasn't changed a bit," Quarterback Tyler Murphy said. "He's still working hard, still coaching hard. Still treats everyone the same. I haven't noticed a change in him. He's upset with how we're performing and that we're losing, but he's still working hard day in and day out."
This season Florida is averaging 335.7 yards a game, which ranks 111th out of 123 FBS teams. Last year, the Gators ranked 103rd with 334.4 YPG. And in 2011, the year before Pease arrived, they were 105th with 328.7 YPG.
The passing offense has been particularly bad, ranking 99th (189.7 YPG) this season, 114th (146.3 YPG) in 2012 and 89th (185.7 YPG) in 2011. The numbers speak for themselves, but Pease remains determined to turn them around.
"It's the same thing we tell the kids, you've got to be mentally tough. You've got to shut it out sometimes," he said. "And I understand what people are saying and frustrated with. Do they understand all of the circumstances? Not all of the time. But you've got to work through it.
"In my situation I don't think you can lose confidence in who you are and what you believe in and how you got to be doing your job. Last year it was a situation where we knew how to manufacture and get wins. I wouldn't say highly explosive, what you want to be, but it was productive. We were a lot healthier in spots, too. It's tough but you've got to work through it."
When he came to Florida, Pease's credentials were obvious. He had been an offensive coordinator at five different schools and play-caller for 11 years.
In 2011, Pease's one season as the offensive coordinator at Boise State, the Broncos averaged 481.3 yards, passed for 309.4 yards, scored 44.2 points a game and went 12-1.
Despite a lack of production at Florida, neither Pease nor Muschamp has lost the faith of their players.
"They’re both great guys, they’re both working very hard, they put a lot of hours in," said Murphy, who had four turnovers in the loss to Vanderbilt. "They’ve done a great job. Last year, we were one game away from a national championship, so things just aren’t going well. But they’re both two guys that continue to work hard and coach their butts off."
Muschamp says he understands the growing criticism, but solutions are hard to come by.
"It’s a lot of different things," he said. "Everybody wants to put their finger on one thing and say ‘Eureka. This is what it is.’ That’s not the way it works. There are multiple things we’ve got to get corrected in order to win, and we’re going to look at it.
"We’ve got to coach better. We’ve got to find ways to put our guys in better position, better situations to overcome that. The psychological battle of getting our guys in the right situations to be successful. That’s our job as coaches."
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