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Season report card: Florida Gators

1/29/2015

There wasn't a ton to smile about in Gainesville in 2014. The season culminated with a disappointing 7-5 record, and coach Will Muschamp was fired before the month of November ended.

Offense: After averaging 593.5 yards and 50.5 points in the first two games of the season, the Gators never hit the 500-yard mark again and scored 40-or-more one other time. With Jeff Driskel and Treon Harris sharing starting time, the Gators ranked 12th in the SEC in passing (179.9 yards per game). Receiver Demarcus Robinson (810 yards and seven touchdowns) was one of the league’s best. The Gators averaged 187.7 rushing yards per game, but Florida averaged a lousy 338.1 total yards and under 25 points in conference games. Grade: D

Defense: Once again, the Gators owned one of the SEC’s top defenses, but there was more bend in this group than ever during Muschamp’s tenure. Florida ranked fifth in the SEC in total defense (329.8 yards allowed per game) but gave up an SEC-low 4.55 yards per play. Florida’s younger secondary had its worst year under Muschamp, going from first in the SEC in pass defense to seventh, allowing 213.6 yards per game and being highly susceptible to the deep pass all year. Florida registered 30 sacks and 30 takeaways (second in the SEC). Grade: B-

Special teams: Dynamic return man Andre Debose wasn’t exactly the firecracker we were used to seeing, but he did return a punt for a touchdown. Florida averaged just 20.1 yards per kickoff return, while opponents averaged 22.4 yards and returned one for a touchdown. Florida also gave up a punt for a touchdown and had two kicks blocked in that disastrous loss to South Carolina. The play of the year came when walk-on receiver Michael McNeely took a fake field goal into the end zone in the upset win over Georgia. Punter Kyle Christy averaged 44.3 yards per kick and downed 22 inside the 20-yard line. Florida went kicker by committee, hitting 19-of-24 kicks, including five of 40-or-more yards. Grade: C

Coaching: When your head coach gets fired before the season ends, you know things didn’t go well. For as good as Florida was on defense, the offense just couldn’t get off the ground … again. Muschamp says he didn’t get in the way of offensive coordinator Kurt Roper, but the up-tempo, spread offense everyone expected to see was nonexistent after the first two games of the season. Some think Muschamp’s attachment to Driskel kept the offense from growing. Grade: F

Overall: Florida watched its offense crumble and its head coach let go. Florida did have a comeback win at Tennessee and snapped a three-game losing streak to Georgia with a commanding 38-20 win. But it got blown out at home by a Missouri team that had only 120 yards of total offense and blew every chance -- and lead -- in home losses to LSU and South Carolina, and in the season-finale at Florida State. However, Florida did get back to a bowl game and won to close the season. Grade: D