I'm calling now what I knew a week ago but didn't want to say: Will Muschamp is going to get fired during or shortly after this season.
The game against Alabama only reinforced what we learned from Florida's game against Kentucky. The secondary on this year's team, outside of Vernon Hargreaves, is on par with the 2007 Gator secondary. That unit was the worst of the post-Zook years, and it was the primary reason that UF lost four games during Tim Tebow's Heisman-winning campaign. It had only two upperclassmen in the top eight players; so does the 2014 secondary.
Coaching up the secondary has been a strength under the Muschamp regime, so I wasn't prepared to call this year's defensive backfield the same as 2007's without seeing it first. Patrick Towles might end up the best UK quarterback since Andre' Woodson, but he made more big plays than he would have made while throwing to young receivers last week than he would have if this was any UF secondary from 2008-13. The Crimson Tide yesterday merely demonstrated the extent of the problem, thanks to it being Blake Sims, Amari Cooper, and DeAndrew White instead of Mark Stoops's young Wildcats.
Muschamp keeping his job past this year always rested on two things: Jeff Driskel living up to his recruiting rankings while playing in a scheme more suited to his talents, and the defense continuing to be elite, as that is Muschamp's calling card. By now, we can see that neither is coming through.
Maybe it's a symptom of having three different coordinators and quarterbacks coaches in four years, or receivers who drop too many balls, or a line that can't be trusted, or maybe he just didn't have the it factor after all, but Driskel is not going to be a four-star player this year. There is no one else to turn to other than true freshmen because of a history of questionable quarterback recruiting strategy under Muschamp, but that's a long story for another time. It had to be Driskel playing well, and he's just not going to do it consistently.
The run defense actually played really well against Alabama. Late in the first half, the Tide was getting just 1.6 yards per carry. Even after the rushing onslaught at the end, where a worn out defense that got zero help from the offense had nothing left, Bama rushed for under four yards a carry on the game. But the pass defense was an abject disaster from the first play, where Kenyan Drake beat middle linebacker Antonio Morrison on a slant-and-go for an 87-yard touchdown reception. Why the MLB was covering a speedy guy lined up on the numbers is a mystery to me. O.J. Howard's second reception came after literally no one covered him.
The secondary will be better next year once all these young guys are older, just like how the 2008 defensive backfield was far better than the 2007 version. It doesn't matter. Muschamp has to win now, and he won't. Missouri, Georgia, South Carolina, and FSU all can throw the ball, and all will have great days against this team. Maybe the Gators can beat LSU thanks to its somewhat sketchy passing game; maybe they can take down Mizzou, considering Indiana just did. They probably won't get both though, and if they don't, this is a 6-5 team. That won't cut it. And, with as good of receivers as Tennessee has, winning in Knoxville in two weeks is far from a foregone conclusion.
So yeah: Muschamp isn't going to make it to 2015 in Gainesville. His inability both to identify and hire offensive assistants and identify and develop offensive players in the proper numbers did him in. If the offense wasn't in such dire straits, then he'd survive a down defensive year no problem. Oh well.
Unless something miraculous happens during the bye this week, this will be Will Muschamp's final season at Florida.