Florida Gators’ 2014 football schedule: An early look at the uphill battle

On Sunday, sources of the Orlando Sentinel confirmed that Will Muschamp’s job is safe for at least another season. With that being the case, it’s time to take an early look at the road ahead.

There will be adjustments on the offensive side of the ball. Offensive coordinator Brent Pease will reportedly be fired after the season finale against FSU, and other shakeups are expected. Other than the injuries, a constant from this season is how nonexistent (and inconsistent) the offense has played.

Heading into the FSU game, Florida ranks 111th out of 125 teams in scoring offense, and last in the SEC. Putting up only 20 points on FCS-level Georgia Southern is unacceptable.

It’s put up or shut up time for Muschamp heading into 2014. He must lure a top-notch offensive coordinator to Gainesville, with the reality that the two have one year to produce together. That’s where it gets sticky for Boom.

[Photo: Florida Gators block each other during Georgia Southern game]

Barring a monumental upset of No. 2 Florida State, the Gators will finish with a 4-8 record in 2013. From a fan’s perspective, anything less than a 10-win season next year is going to be unacceptable. That means a six game turnaround with a difficult schedule – a schedule that boasts a seven game gauntlet of match-ups Florida could very well lose.

The Gators open with three cupcakes: Idaho (Aug. 30), Eastern Michigan (Sept. 6) and Kentucky (Sept. 13). From there it gets hairy.

Florida will travel to Alabama on Sept. 20, followed by an open date. Even though the Tide will lose a ton of players to the NFL and graduation, going into Tuscaloosa and escaping with a victory isn’t an easy task.

After a bye week, Florida will hit the road to take on Tennessee in Neyland Stadium. While the Gators have the Vols’ number as of late, Tennessee is showing signs of life under new coach Butch Jones.

Following the trip to Knoxville, Florida returns home for two games: LSU (Oct. 11) and Missouri (Oct. 18).

The team then has another open date before its annual grudge match with Georgia (Nov. 1), a trip to Vanderbilt (Nov. 8), and South Carolina at home (Nov. 15).

To round out the regular season, Eastern Kentucky will visit The Swamp on Nov. 22, and the Gators will travel to Doak Campbell to play Florida State on Nov.29.

Let’s take a best case/worst case/prediction look at the schedule.

Best Case: 9-3

Florida wins the first three games; loses to Alabama; tops Tennessee; splits between LSU and Missouri; beats Georgia, Vanderbilt, South Carolina and Eastern Kentucky; and ends the season with a loss to Florida State.

Worst Case:  4-8

Florida wins the first three games; loses all seven games sandwiched between Kentucky and Eastern Kentucky; and rounds out the season with a loss to FSU.

Prediction: 8-4

Florida wins the first three games; loses to Alabama; beats Tennessee; splits LSU and Missouri; beats Georgia; drops a game to either Vanderbilt or South Carolina; beats Eastern Kentucky; and falls to FSU.

Conclusion

While there is talent on the team, and injuries have devastated the Gators this season, nine or 10 wins seem like a long shot in 2014. That means Florida fans could very well sit through another mediocre season. The team will likely be staring at a pre-New Years Day bowl game.

It’s hard to imagine the offense making enough strides in one year to save Muschamp’s job. If he makes the right hire, however, he will fight to see another day. Muschamp’s road to redemption begins in the offseason.

  • Jerry Crowe

    I think that is pretty accurate. If Muschamp has been holding back the OC, then firing the OC will not help.

    • Jim

      and he has

  • TJ

    I think you for got what best case means! 9 – 3 for the very best case scenario?? Now let me say this is not my prediction, BUT if Muschamp were to hire a great OC (cough cough Joker) and a better o line coach, then the talent is there to make a run at a title! You know we have the defense! Then you have driskel coming back, Grier if he doesn’t get the job done, Debose coming back, Pittman, Dunbar, Fulwood, Robinson, etc at wide out. Got a staple of backs including Jones, Taylor, and Lane. And if our new o line coach can actually train up players we have plenty of big bodies to bully even the sec d lines. Plus plenty of big recruits including Ermon Lane, probably David Sharpe, and hopefully still Dalvin Cook. I’m not saying a 2014 national title is likely. My prediction is closer to your prediction. I am saying your BEST case scenario is very low for a team loaded with potential. We just need the coaches to use it.

  • Darryl Eugene Swearingen

    I hope we will be able to hire a real good Offensive Cordinator and recruit top knotch players next year…..with the Head Coach on the hot seat…….will we be able to get them to come to Florida with their future in limbo…..Hope Muschamp can turn it around and get Florida back on track……

  • Jim

    I’d love to see him turn it around, but it will never happen. Florida is a school where you have to start with the offense. He doesn’t even know where he is. He thinks he is in the Big Ten. Every successful coach in UF history has run a wide open offense. Steve Spurrier viewed defense as a distraction. He didn’t even mess with it. Meyer was more concerned with his special teams. Both hired good DCs and told them to get him the ball back. Muschamp views offense much the same way. “You’re job on offense is to give my guys a break.” He’s rather have a time consuming drive end with a field goal than score a quick touchdown. That’s not who Florida is.