The Florida Gators are now on a four-game losing streak heading into their SEC finale against South Carolina on Saturday . Interim coach Randy Shannon is looking for more effort from the Gators than he saw against Missouri last week, and Florida is prepped to face its former head coach in Will Muschamp. SEC Country’s Zach Abolverdi and Jordan McPherson discuss this and more in our latest Zaxby’s Sound Off.
- Florida’s annual conference game against South Carolina received an extra layer of intrigue in 2016 when Will Muschamp became the Gamecocks’ coach. The storyline was fitting: Muschamp facing the program he was fired from and the successor to his job in Gainesville. Just one season later, the Gators have already moved on from Muschamp’s replacement in Jim McElwain, who was let go almost two weeks ago. Now, as a reeling Florida prepares to face South Carolina on the road, the matchup against Muschamp provides a sense of just how much of a crossroad the Florida program is in at the moment.
- Florida looked like a team without commitment against Missouri on Saturday , losing 45-16 to a Missouri team that had yet to defeat a Power 5 opponent this season heading into the matchup. The defense played without conviction for most of the game and the offense didn’t score a touchdown on a mediocre defense until garbage time in the fourth quarter. Linebacker David Reese said it was “sad to see” after the game and challenged his teammates to step up.
- Added storylines aside, Florida knows that if it wasn’t in must-win territory before (which it was), it is now. At 3-5, the Gators need to sweep their final three games — South Carolina on Saturday and home games against UAB and Florida State — to secure bowl eligibility. After the season Florida has endured this year — from the suspensions to the hurricane to the losses to their head coach being fired — players are using the opportunity to reach a bowl as a silver lining for the end of the season, which says a lot about a team that came into the year hoping to reach the SEC Championship Game for a third straight season.
- Interim coach Randy Shannon on Monday named Malik Zaire the starter for the second straight week, saying that Zaire didn’t do anything to hurt the Gators in their 45-16 loss to Missouri. Zaire struggled early on and had an interception in the second quarter, but the Notre Dame graduate transfer also led Florida on two of its best sustained drives of the season.