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Author
Mark Long
Date
December 1, 2013

Florida fires Pease, Davis after losing season

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Florida coach Will Muschamp didn’t wait very long to start making changes.

The school confirmed Sunday that Muschamp fired offensive coordinator Brent Pease and offensive line coach Tim Davis less than 24 hours after the Gators (4-8) completed their first losing season since 1979.

Muschamp dismissed Pease and Davis a day after a humbling, 37-7 loss to rival Florida State.

The moves had been expected for weeks, as the losses mounted and it became clear Muschamp would revamp his offense. Pease and Davis spent the last two years in Gainesville.

Pease and Davis were the primary scapegoats for a dismal season that included a dreadful offense and the worst loss in school history. The Gators finished the season ranked 112th in total offense. Florida managed just 279 yards in a 26-20 loss to lower-division Georgia Southern on Nov. 23 and then 193 against the Seminoles.

“They are both good football coaches and even better people,” Muschamp said in a statement. “There have been a lot of unfortunate circumstances this year, but that is part of the game sometimes. I want to thank each of them for their contributions to the program both on and off the field.”

Florida’s offense was ravaged by injuries, losing quarterback Jeff Driskel, running back Matt Jones, receiver Andre Debose and three offensive tackles for the season. Backup quarterback Tyler Murphy also missed the final three games with a sprained throwing shoulder, leaving third-stringer Skyler Mornhinweg to start.

The injuries surely were a viable excuse for this season, but they can’t be blamed for Florida’s offense being ranked in the triple digits for three consecutive years.

“I know we came up short of our ultimate goal, but I will carry on knowing I gained valuable friendships and relationships during my time here,” Pease said in a statement.

He replaced Charlie Weis after six years at Boise State, choosing Florida over Alabama — a decision he surely regrets now.

Pease was saddled with a first-year starting quarterback in 2012 (Driskel), a bungling offensive line and few, if any, playmakers. And the team’s receivers coach resigned at the beginning of fall practice. Still, the Gators won 11 games last season and earned a spot in the Sugar Bowl.

Pease’s second year was supposed to be better.

But Driskel (broken leg) and Jones (knee) went down early in the season, joining Debose (knee) and right tackle Chaz Green (labrum) on the sideline.

So Pease was stuck calling plays with a third-string quarterback down the stretch.

And it surely didn’t help that Pease spent two years running the kind of offense Muschamp wanted — a run-heavy, try-to-wear-defenses-down style that leads to close games and leaves little margin for error.

The offensive line was the biggest problem the last two years, allowing 66 sacks during Davis’ tenure.

“I think Will is a really good self-evaluator,” athletic director Jeremy Foley said Saturday. “He can look in the mirror and isn’t afraid to take responsibility for what’s happened. … We look at ourselves and how we get better. Not just sit here and say, ‘Yeah, we’ve got a bunch of injuries, we’ll be fine.’ That better not be our attitude. It better be our attitude to reevaluate every single facet of what we’re doing and get this thing fixed.

“Yeah, it stinks. It stinks for every Gator fan. This season has been no fun because we care.”

Florida owes Pease about $1.2 million for the remaining two years on his contract. It’s unclear what direction Muschamp will go with his third offensive coordinator in four years, but the better question is what will the offense look like after the change.

“We need to take a look at ourselves schematically with what we’re doing,” Muschamp said Saturday. “There have been some things that have happened that are very difficult to overcome, but schematically there’s no question we need to take a look at ourselves. … I’m willing to do what we need to do to score points and win games.”

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