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Tuesday, Jul 22, 2014

Beleaguered Gators brace for FSU


Published:   |   Updated: November 25, 2013 at 11:45 PM

GAINESVILLE — Florida Gators coach Will Muschamp hinted Monday that changes on offense are coming in 2014.

But for now, there is Skyler Mornhinweg.

A redshirt freshman who had not thrown a pass in a game until three weeks ago, Mornhinweg could start again at quarterback Saturday when the Gators finish a disappointing 2013 season against heavily-favored rival Florida State.

Coming off an embarrassing 26-20 loss to Georgia Southern, an FCS school, the Gators (4-7) will look to end a six-game losing streak against the second-ranked Seminoles (10-0) in Gainesville.

Mornhinweg, the third-string quarterback called upon after injuries to Jeff Driskel and Tyler Murphy, completed 14 of 25 passes for 122 yards and two touchdowns against Georgia Southern. The week before, he was 10 of 13 for 107 yards in a loss at South Carolina.

So, Florida has slowly expanded his throwing, but in both starts Mornhinweg failed to lead UF to a winning touchdown at the end of the game.

Meanwhile, Muschamp said Murphy remains questionable with a shoulder injury.

“I’m preparing all week like I’m going to be the guy,” Mornhinweg said. “I’m just going to work hard all week and get ready to go play. It’s exciting. I feel like I’m getting better every week.”

Florida is still confident and not far off from being a much better offensive team, Mornhinweg said.

“We’re still real confident in our ability,” he said. “We think we have a great team, and I can definitely see that (it’s getting better).”

Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley maintains Muschamp’s job is safe despite the fact UF will not go to a bowl game a year after playing in the Sugar Bowl. The current losing streak is the program’s worst since the 1979 team went 0-10-1.

But for the first time in his tenure, Muschamp seemed to agree it is time for change as far as offensive philosophy.

“I think that’s something we obviously need to look at, that we need to be able to evaluate,” he said. “I think in all situation as coaches it’s your job to evaluate your players and what they can do. And we ask them to do the right things. There’s been some obvious things that have been very difficult for us to deal with as far as where we’re headed with things. That’s something I’ll evaluate and deal with.”

But first, FSU awaits.

“We definitely know we can compete with them,’’ senior defensive back Jaylen Watkins said Monday. “Everybody is fully behind coach Muschamp. We love Coach Muschamp. We try our hardest not to listen to all that on ESPN and stuff and just ignore it and know that we only have each other through this whole thing.

“Obviously, it’s visible on the TV, but we don’t pay any attention to it or have any discussions about it.’’

If Mornhinweg leads the Gators to a win, it would be one of the biggest upsets in a series that dates to 1958. In 1997, FSU seemed headed to the national title game, but was upset in Gainesville, 32-29.

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